Groupthink Choices & Clint Eastwood Movie Among Worst of the Year? + Naomi Watts Surprise Appearance

Groupthink or absolute masterpiece? The Social Network with Rooney Mara top Best FilmGroupthink or absolute masterpiece? David Fincher's Facebook drama The Social Network, about the sad, ugly, greedy beginnings of the social media giant, has been winning just about every single Best Film award this season. Its mostly young cast includes Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, plus Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake, and Rooney Mara (pictured).

Critics awards: Groupthink is most everywhere

Groupthink is an awards season disease, as can be attested by the Best of 2010 lists of winners and nominees that have been made public in the last few days. (See various lists further below.)

As has been almost invariably the case since the pre-Oscar proliferation of U.S.-based critics groups announcements, the groupthink virus continues to infect the numerous voting bodies. As a result – with a handful of exceptions – the same two or three movies, actors, actresses, screenwriters, etc., are being honored ad nauseam.

Best Film groupthink

In the Best Film category, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker dominated last year. The previous year, it was Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. This year, it's David Fincher's The Social Network.

Is that because critics really all agree that The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Social Network are – by far – the best movies of their respective years?

Or is that because they are the “acceptable” titles? In other words, Oscar-worthy movies – in terms of possibility, not quality – and thus publicity-worthy as well? Critics groups, after all, must remain relevant.

Or could it simply be that each year most U.S. film critics watch the same dozen or so new releases?

So far this year, The Social Network, a widely acclaimed drama about the friendlessness involved in the creation of Facebook, is the top movie of 2010 according to the now unabashedly mainstream New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Houston Film Critics, the Washington D.C. Film Critics, the National Board of Review, and the New York Film Critics Online.

Fincher's Facebook movie has also been shortlisted by the American Film Institute and the Detroit Film Critics.

Kim Hye-ja and Niels Arestrup among groupthink exceptions

Admittedly, there have been the inevitable handful of groupthink exceptions in other categories. In internationally minded Los Angeles, for instance, Kim Hye-ja topped the Best Actress category for her work in Bong Joon-ho's South Korean psychological drama Mother, while Niels Arestrup was Best Supporting Actor for his work in Jacques Audiard's French prison drama A Prophet.

It's always a heartening sign whenever U.S.-based critics – inundated with Hollywood fare all year long – succeed in acknowledging the existence of quality filmmaking from other parts of the globe.

Below are the recently announced lists from the various groups.

Boston Society Film Critics Awards

Best Picture: The Social Network.

Best Foreign Language Film: Mother.

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network.

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter.

Best Supporting Actress: Juliette Lewis, Conviction.

Best Ensemble: The Fighter.

Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network.

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, True Grit.

Best Documentary: Marwencol.

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3.

Best Film Editing: Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan.

Best New Filmmaker: Jeff Malmberg, Marwencol.

Best Use of Music in a Film: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network.

 

New York Film Critics Online winners

Best Film: The Social Network.

Best Foreign Language Film: I Am Love.

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan.

Best Actor: James Franco127 Hours.

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa LeoThe Fighter.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter.

Ensemble Cast: The Kids Are All Right.

Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network.

Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3.

Breakthrough Performer: Noomi RapaceThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Debut Director: John Wells, The Company Men.

Best Cinematography: Matthew Libatique, Black Swan.

Best Score: Clint Mansell, Black Swan.

Armie Hammer The Social Network: Groupthink exception is Best Supporting Actor as Winklevoss twinsArmie Hammer in The Social Network. Groupthink exception: In a dual role – with the help of CGI and Josh Pence's body – as Winklevoss twins Cameron and Tyler, Hammer has been surprisingly singled out as the year's Best Supporting Actor by the Toronto Film Critics Association.

More North American film critics awards: Groupthink picks

As mentioned at the top of this post, thanks to either absolutely artistic superiority or (and?) groupthink, things have gotten increasingly repetitive as North American critics group after North American critics group herald David Fincher's drama about the creation of Facebook as the Best Film the year.

The Toronto Film Critics Association was the latest to announce The Social Network as their top pick. In addition to Best Film, Fincher's movie also won in the following categories: Best Director, Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg, playing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg), Best Supporting Actor (Armie Hammer), and Best Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin).

Groupthink exceptions: Armie Hammer & Cannes Film Festival winner

Admittedly, the Toronto Film Critics came up with a few surprises as well.

First of all, there was Armie Hammer's aforementioned win for playing – with the assistance of CGI and Josh Pence's body – the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss in The Social Network. Hammer hasn't really been on anyone's awards season radar thus far.

Additionally, the Toronto Film Critics have given the season's first victory to 2010 Cannes Film Festival winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a meditative Thai drama directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Even more surprising, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives was also a runner-up in the Best Film category.

Moderate & minor surprises: Hailee Steinfeld & Banksy documentary

Two other moderately surprising choices were:

  • The selection of Hailee Steinfeld as Best Supporting Actress for Joel and Ethan Coen's Western True Grit – instead of Academy Award shoo-in Melissa Leo for The Fighter. Kim Darby had Steinfeld's role in Henry Hathaway's 1969 original starring John Wayne.
  • The Best Animated Feature award going to Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders' How to Train Your Dragon, which has beaten Toy Story 3 only a couple of other times so far.

Although Black Swan star Natalie Portman remains this year's Best Actress Oscar shoo-in, Toronto's selecting instead shoo-in Oscar contender Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) was hardly a major surprise.

The same can be said of the Best Documentary award being given to Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop, which also happened to be the Best First Feature winner.

The Best Canadian Film winner will be announced on Jan. 12.

Toronto Film Critics winners

Best Picture: The Social Network.

Best Foreign Language Film: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network.

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone.

Best Supporting Actor: Armie Hammer, The Social Network.

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit.

Best Screenplay: The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin, and based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.

Best First Feature: Exit Through the Gift Shop, directed by Banksy.

Best Documentary Feature: Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon.

Jay Scott Prize for Emerging Talent Writer-Director: Daniel Cockburn, You Are Here.

Special Citation: Bruce McDonald, who directed four movies in 2010 – This Movie is Broken, Trigger, Music from the Big House, and Hard Core Logo 2.

Best Canadian Film Nominees:

  • Incendies, directed by Denis Villeneuve.
  • Splice, directed by Vincenzo Natali.
  • Trigger, directed by Bruce McDonald.
Hailee Steinfeld True Grit: Groupthink exception as Best Supporting ActressHailee Steinfeld in True Grit is groupthink exception. Melissa Leo is easily this year's favorite Best Supporting Actress for her performance in David O. Russell's boxing drama The Fighter. Even so, relative newcomer Hailee Steinfeld has topped that category a few times so far for her work in Joel and Ethan Coen's Western True Grit. Kim Darby had Steinfeld's role in Henry Hathaway's 1969 movie version of Charles Portis' novel.

Southeastern Film Critics groupthink exceptions: Geoffrey Rush & Hailee Steinfeld

Groupthink exceptions – even if only moderately surprising – from the Southeastern Film Critics Association include the following:

  • Geoffrey Rush, as stuttering King Colin Firth's speech therapist, winning Best Supporting Actor for The King's Speech. Sure to receive an Oscar nomination, Rush has been lagging behind Christian Bale for The Fighter.
  • Once again, relative newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as Best Supporting Actress for Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit.

Elsewhere, it's been all about The Social Network, Colin Firth, and Natalie Portman.

Southeastern Film Critics winners

Best Film: The Social Network.

Best Foreign Language Film: Mother.

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network.

Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan.

Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech.

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit.

Best Ensemble: The Social Network.

Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network.

Best Documentary: Inside Job.

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3.

Best Cinematography: True Grit.

The Gene Wyatt Award (for a film that best evokes 'The Spirit of the South'): Winter's Bone.

Hereafter Matt Damon worst movie of year despite Clint Eastwood critics' darling status?Hereafter with Matt Damon. U.S. critics' darling and two-time Best Director Oscar winner or no, Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, 1992; Million Dollar Baby, 2004) has had his metaphysical drama shortlisted in the St. Louis Film Critics Association's Worst Movie of the Year category. No groupthink there, though, admittedly, Hereafter hasn't been exactly an awards season favorite.

Oscar-influenced Best Picture 'groupthink'?

The St. Louis Film Critics Association mostly played it safe in their 2010 nominations. The five Best Film nominees, for instance, are all potential Best Picture Oscar candidates that have been already shortlisted elsewhere: Black SwanThe FighterInceptionThe King's SpeechThe Social Network.

The one major surprise in the acting nominations was in the Best Actress race: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right, which was completely shut out) was absent while Naomi Watts (Fair Game) was in.

The other major surprise was finding U.S. critics' fave and two-time Best Director Oscar winner Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, 1992; Million Dollar Baby, 2004) having one of his efforts – the metaphysical Hereafter – included among the five Worst Movies of the year. Also in contention: James L. Brooks' box office disaster How Do You KnowSkylineWhen in Rome, and The Wolfman.

Meanwhile, Jackass 3D can be found in the Best Comedy category. A joke? Could Hereafter, for one, have been funnier?

Update: See 2010 St. Louis Film Critics winners.

Naomi Watts Fair Game as CIA spy Valerie Plame: Best Actress for flop?Naomi Watts in Fair Game. Summit Entertainment's box office disappointment about the George W. Bush's administration's “outing” of CIA spy Valerie Plame has been shortlisted in the St. Louis Film Critics Association's Best Actress category. Three of her competitors are N-named actresses: Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Natalie Portman (Black Swan). The outlier is Jennifer Lawrence, in the running for Winter's Bone.

American Film Institute (AFI): Top Ten American movies

No major surprises are to be found in the American Film Institute's list of best American movies released in 2010. Something notable, however, is the inclusion of two independently made efforts directed by women: Debra Granik's Ozarks-set drama Winter's Bone and Lisa Cholodenko's family comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right.

In order to include a nonfiction film and a non-American production in their honor rolls, this year the AFI announced “Special Awards” for Tom Hooper's The King's Speech – a British box office hit in the U.S. and already an Oscar favorite – and Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for 'Superman'.

Non-English-language films such as A Prophet and Mother, no matter how well received, were out of luck.

Needless to say, the AFI isn't a critics group. Besides, they don't announce a specific winner, sticking to a Top Ten list instead. See below.

AFI movies of the year (in alphabetical order)

  • Black Swan (dir.: Darren Aronofsky).
  • The Fighter (dir.: David O. Russell).
  • Inception (dir.: Christopher Nolan).
  • The Kids Are All Right (dir.: Lisa Cholodenko).
  • 127 Hours (dir.: Danny Boyle).
  • The Social Network (dir.: David Fincher).
  • The Town (dir.: Ben Affleck).
  • Toy Story 3 (dir.: Lee Unkrich).
  • True Grit (dir.: Joel and Ethan Coen).
  • Winter's Bone (dir.: Debra Granik).

AFI Special Awards

  • The King's Speech (dir.: Tom Hooper).
  • Waiting for 'Superman' (dir.: David Guggenheim).

'The Social Network' again: Groupthink and/or indisputable greatness?

David Fincher's The Social Network has won another film critics award, courtesy of the Indiana Film Journalists Association (IFJA). Aaron Sorkin's adapted screenplay was also singled out.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the dream-invading Inception also won two awards in Indiana: Best Director for Christopher Nolan and the Original Vision Award, “meant to recognize a film that is especially innovative or original.”

Also in the Inception cast: Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hardy, among others.

Lebanon 2009 movie: Groupthink exception is surprising Best Foreign Language Film winnerLebanon: groupthink exception. Samuel Maoz's 2009 Middle East-set war movie was the surprising Best Foreign Language Film winner at the Indiana Film Journalists Association's awards. Last year, Lebanon was the winner of the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion.

More groupthink exceptions: King & Kids not quite all right

Indiana-style groupthink exceptions: Totally shut out were Tom Hooper's The King's Speech and Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right.

Also, somewhat – albeit increasingly less – surprising was Hailee Steinfeld as Best Supporting Actress and How to Train Your Dragon being voted Best Animated Film.

Now, a major groupthink exception was Samuel Maoz's Israeli war drama Lebanon, winner of the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, being selected as the year's Best Foreign Language Film.

Hoosier Award

And last but not least, screenwriter Andie Redwine was honored with The Hoosier Award for her work on Storme Wood's Paradise Recovered, described as “a film about a woman from a cloistered religious sect forced to view her community from a new perspective, which was partially shot in southern Indiana.”

The Hoosier Award “recognizes a significant cinematic contribution by a person or persons with Indiana roots.”

Indiana Film Journalists winners

Best Film of the Year: The Social Network.

Best Animated Film: How to Train Your Dragon.

Best Foreign Language Film: Lebanon.

Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network.

Best Director: Christopher Nolan, Inception.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan.

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit.

Best Actor: James Franco, 127 Hours.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter.

Original Vision Award: Inception.

The Hoosier Award: Andie Redwine, writer/producer of Paradise Recovered.

 

Boston Society of Film Critics website.

American Film Institute (AFI) website.

Armie Hammer and Rooney Mara The Social Network images: Merrick Morton / Sony Pictures.

Hailee Steinfeld True Grit image: Paramount Pictures.

Matt Damon Hereafter image: Ken Regan / Warner Bros.

Naomi Watts Fair Game image: Summit Entertainment.

Lebanon movie image: Sony Pictures Classics.

“Groupthink Choices & Clint Eastwood Movie Among Worst of the Year? + Naomi Watts Surprise Appearance” last updated in July 2018.

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1 Comment to Groupthink Choices & Clint Eastwood Movie Among Worst of the Year? + Naomi Watts Surprise Appearance

  1. steandric

    Why is the absence of Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) and the inclusion of Naomi Watts (Fair Game) in the Best Actress race be a surprise? Sorry it is definitely not a surprise but absolutely correct and most righteous. Ms. Watts gave one of the best performances of the year and Bening not. Therefore no surprise whatsoever.