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New York Film Critics Awards: THE MASTER, Michael Haneke? Our Predictions

New York Film Critics Awards Michael Haneke AmourNew York Film Critics Awards 2012 winners: Predictions range from Amour to The Central Park Five

The New York Film Critics Circle will announce their 2012 favorites on Monday. As one of the most influential critics' groups in the United States, the New York critics' choices have often been a harbinger of things to come at the Academy Awards and at other awards season announcements. Last year, all but two of the NYFCC winners* went on to receive Oscar nods (the exceptions were Drive's Albert Brooks and Werner Herzog's documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams); of those, four went on to take home Oscars: Best Picture The Artist, Best Actress Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Best Director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), and Best Foreign Language Film A Separation. (Image: Michael Haneke on the Amour set.) [Note: Live reporting of New York Film Critics Circle Award winners.]

So, who'll take home the coveted New York Film Critics Awards this year? First, four easy (or seemingly easy) ones: I'd say that barring major upsets, Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild will win the NYFCC's Best First Film Award; Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David Mcmahon's The Central Park Five will be the Best Non-Fiction Film; Life of Pi's Claudio Miranda will win for Best Cinematography; and Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or and European Film Award winner Amour will be the New York Critics' Best Foreign Language Film.

Best Director: Michael Haneke

Once upon a time, the NYFCC used to make moderately daring, international choices, e.g., Liv Ullmann, Glenda Jackson (in Stevie), John Gielgud (in Alain Resnais' Providence), Isabelle Adjani, François Truffaut, Federico Fellini, Costa-Gavras. Those days are long gone. So, going out on a (precarious) limb, I'm also betting on Amour for Best Director even though no filmmaker has won a NYFCC Award for a non-English-language film since Ingmar Bergman for Fanny and Alexander back in 1983. (Michel Hazanavicius doesn't count. True, The Artist is a French production, but it's silent and set in all-American Hollywood.)

If Michael Haneke doesn't win, I'd say there are five other equally strong possibilities: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master, Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, Ben Affleck for Argo, and Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Less likely possibilities include Tom Hooper for Les Misérables, Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained, Wes Anderson for Moonrise Kingdom, and David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. Not impossible: This year's Cannes Film Festival's two "limo movies," David Cronenberg for Cosmopolis and Leos Carax for Holy Motors, and, gasp!, Gary Ross for The Hunger Games and Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises.

Best Film: The Master

The strongest Best Film possibilities are all listed above. I'm betting on Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, which at this stage needs all the awards season help it can get to end up among the (up to) ten Best Picture Oscar nominees. The top runners-up would be Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Life of Pi.

Best Screenplay: Lincoln

For Best Screenplay, I'm betting on Tony Kushner for Lincoln. The strongest runners-up are Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master, David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, and Michael Haneke for Amour. Leos Carax for Holy Motors would be a fascinating surprise, while Martin McDonagh for Seven Psychopaths is another possibility.

* Not including J.C. Chandor, whose Margin Call won in the Best First Film category, which doesn't exist at the Oscars.

["The Master, Michael Haneke? Predictions for the 2012 New York Film Critics Awards" continues on the next page. See link below.]

Michael Haneke on the Amour set photo: Sony Pictures Classics.

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