National Society of Film Critics Awards: Classy winners include Amour, Michael Haneke, Emmanuelle Riva
The National Society of Film Critics can be a classy, discerning voting body when its members feel like it. And that happens much more frequently than with most other U.S.-based film critics groups, including the better known and increasingly more mundane New York Film Critics Circle (though there's quite a bit of membership overlapping between the two entities). So, instead of going for well-received big-studio Hollywood fare like Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln or Argo, the National Society of Film Critics selected Michael Haneke's French-language Palme d'Or winner Amour as the Best Picture of 2012. (Image: Emmanuelle Riva in Michael Haneke's Amour.)
The tale of a devoted elderly couple facing illness and death, Amour topped two other National Society of Film Critics Award categories as well: Best Actress for 85-year-old veteran Emmanuelle Riva (if Riva doesn't get an Academy Award nomination, every Academy member should have their membership rescinded), and Best Director for Michael Haneke – his first such win this awards season in North America. Once again left out, as has been the case in the last several weeks (in North America), was Riva's leading man, 82-year-old veteran Jean-Louis Trintignant. In fact, Trintignant isn't even included among the National Society of Film Critics' Best Actor runners-up.
Anyhow, although Trintignant was bypassed, the National Society of Film Critics made another classy choice in the form of Amy Adams, voted Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's well-received but financially disappointing The Master. The Best Cinematography award also went to Anderson's film, thanks to the work of Mihai Malaimare Jr.
Amy Adams, by the way, is now a two-time National Society of Film Critics winner, having topped the Best Supporting Actress category for Junebug back in 2005. Besides, Adams was a runner-up in 2010, for David O. Russell's The Fighter.
National Society of Film Critics Awards 2013: More mainstream choices include Daniel Day-Lewis, Matthew McConaughey
Now, the National Society of Film Critics went mainstream in their choice of Best Actor: the U.S. critics' overwhelming favorite Daniel Day-Lewis, for incarnating U.S. president Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's unexpected box office hit Lincoln. Additionally, Tony Kushner's Lincoln screenplay – another critical favorite this awards season and a WGA Award nominee – was also singled out.
This marks Daniel Day-Lewis' third National Society of Film Critics win. The first two were for Jim Sheridan's My Left Foot (1989) and Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood (2007). Additionally, Day-Lewis was the National Society of Film Critics' runner-up twice in the past: for Sheridan's In the Name of the Father (1993) and, as Best Supporting Actor, for James Ivory's A Room with a View and Stephen Frears' My Beautiful Laundrette in 1986.
The National Society of Film Critics' third mainstream choice this year was that of Matthew McConaughey as Best Supporting Actor, though, admittedly, for a couple of independently made films: Steven Soderbergh's domestic box office hit Magic Mike, in which McConaughey plays a stripper, and Richard Linklater's little-seen Bernie, with McConaughey as a fully clothed district attorney.
More National Society of Film Critics 2013 winners: Shin Bet documentary, Jafar Panahi
The Best Non-Fiction Film was cinematographer-turned-documentarian Dror Moreh's The Gatekeepers, featuring interviews with several former heads of Israel's highly controversial secret service agency, Shin Bet. The Gatekeepers, I should add, is one of the semi-finalists for the 2013 Best Documentary Feature Academy Award.
And finally, the National Society of Film Critics' award for Best Experimental Film went to jailed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi's This Is Not a Film, which had to be smuggled out of Iran and is another semi-finalist for this year's Best Documentary Feature Oscar. The Film Heritage Awards were given to MoMA's Senior Film Curator Laurence Kardish "for his extraordinary 44 years of service, including this year's Weimar Cinema retrospective," and to Milestone Film and Video "for their ongoing Shirley Clarke project."
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Emmanuelle Riva in Michael Haneke's Amour photo: Sony Pictures Classics.