Rachel Weisz Best Actress: NYFCC's truly surprising choice
[See previous post: "Zero Dark Thirty, Fourpeater Daniel Day-Lewis, Record-Breaker Sally Field: New York Film Critics Awards."] First-time New York Film Critics Circle Award winner Rachel Weisz was the (truly) surprising choice for Best Actress for her performance in Terence Davies' The Deep Blue Sea (unsurprisingly, The Bourne Legacy and Dream House went unmentioned). Based on a play by Terence Rattigan, The Deep Blue Sea centers on an extra-marital affair between the wife of a judge and a Royal Air Force pilot (The Avengers' Tom Hiddleston). [Photo: Rachel Weisz The Deep Blue Sea.]
Elsewhere, Rachel Weisz has previously taken home a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener back in 2005; that year, the New York Film Critics opted for Maria Bello in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. For the record, Vivien Leigh played Weisz's The Deep Blue Sea role in a hard-to-find 1955 film version; Kenneth More was her leading man.
The moderately surprising Best Supporting Actor winner was Matthew McConaughey for two movies, Steven Soderbergh's sleeper (domestic) hit Magic Mike and Richard Linklater's succès d'estime Bernie. McConaughey had been a top contender from the get-go, but other favorites in that category included heavyweights Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master, Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln, and Leonardo DiCaprio or possibly Christoph Waltz) for Django Unchained.
In the last two decades, seven NYFCC Best Supporting Actor winners have failed to be shortlisted for the Academy Awards, among them Bill Murray (Rushmore), Harry Belafonte (Kansas City), and last year's Albert Brooks (Drive). Matthew McConaughey will surely get a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe nod, but Oscar chances remain somewhat less clear.
Amour wins, but relegated to 'foreign-language ghetto'
Michael Haneke's French-German-Austrian drama Amour, about an elderly couple (veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) coping with illness and encroaching death, was the Best Foreign Language Film.
Amour had previously won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and four awards – Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress – at the European Film Awards last Saturday. Haneke's film is also the odds-on favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and to dominate the French Academy's César Awards. The New York Critics, however, felt that a non-English-language mention for Amour was enough, and that was that.
The NYFCC's documentaries: The Central Park Five, How to Survive a Plague
Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, The Central Park Five was the New York Critics' choice for Best Non-Fiction Film. Though best known for several somewhat elegiac television documentaries about U.S. history, in The Central Park Five Ken Burns, along with his daughter and McMahon, tackles an ugly episode in New York City history. That's when the city's police, justice system, and media made a mockery of the democratic process by vilifying five black and Hispanic teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989. The men were found guilty – but years later, a serial rapist (and DNA match) confessed to the crime.
David France's How to Survive a Plague became the first documentary to win Best First Feature since that category's inception in 1997. The Gotham Award-winning and Spirit Award-nominated film credits ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) for strong-arming the United States' (recalcitrant) scientific and political establishments – that includes the pharmaceutical industry and government bureaucrats under its thumb – to turn AIDS into a (mostly) manageable disease. As the year's most high-profile feature debut, Behn Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild had been the favorite in the Best First Feature category (and the NYFCC's initial top choice).
Tim Burton's Frankenweenie is Best Animated Feature
And finally, Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, a major box office disappointment for Disney, was named Best Animated Feature. The Annie Award-nominated movie, which features the voices of Charlie Tahan, Martin Landau, Martin Shot, Winona Ryder, and Catherine O'Hara, tells the story of a boy, Victor Frankenstein, who attempts to bring his dead dog back to life. Last year, the NYFCC opted not to hand out an award in the Animated Feature category. [See also our – ahem, way off the mark – NYFCC 2012 Awards predictions.]
Rachel Weisz The Deep Blue Sea photo: Music Box Films.