Los Angeles vs. New York Film Critics: Which Group Makes More Daring Choices?

by S. Montgomery
The Emigrants Liv Ullmann Max von Sydow: Who's more daring? Los Angeles vs NY Film CriticsThe Emigrants with Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow. From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the New York Film Critics Circle handed out top awards to a couple of dozen non-mainstream releases. Jan Troell's 1971 Swedish drama The Emigrants / Utvandrarna, starring Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow as two of the title characters, was one of these films, helping to earn Ullmann – along with Ingmar Bergman's Cries & Whispers – the NYFCC's 1972 Best Actress award. Unfortunately, in the last quarter of a century the NYFCC choices have become increasingly more mainstream.

Who's more offbeat? Los Angeles vs. New York film critics

(See previous post: “James Franco Tattoos + Surprising Best Film & Best Actress Ties: LAFCA Winners.”) In recent years, the Los Angeles Film Critics have gone their own way in several key categories, making the sort of daring and/or international choices that the now chiefly mainstream, Hollywood star-struck New York Film Critics Circle used to make three or four decades ago.

Here are a few examples of the NYFCC's offbeat/international choices back in their heyday:

For comparison's sake, this year's NYFCC winners in the Best Film, Best Director, and the four acting categories were: David O. Russell's Sony Pictures-distributed, all-star crime comedy-drama American Hustle; Robert Redford; Cate Blanchett; Jennifer Lawrence; Jared Leto; and, the lone non-Hollywood name, British director Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave – which has an American setting, and features the likes of Brad Pitt and international star-in-the-making Michael Fassbender.

As for the Los Angeles Film Critics, besides Best Actress winners Sally Hawkins, Yolande Moreau, Kim Hye-ja, Yoon Jeong-hee, Emmanuelle Riva, and this year's Adèle Exarchopoulos, recent offbeat LAFCA picks include:

  • Michael Haneke's Amour, last year's Best Film.
  • Also in 2012, Best Director Paul Thomas Anderson for the box office disappointment The Master.
  • Olivier Assayas' Carlos, which three years ago was as a runner-up for both Best Film (trailing David Fincher's The Social Network) and Best Actor (Edgar Ramírez, trailing Colin Firth for The King's Speech), while Assayas shared with Fincher the Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Director award.

Los Angeles Film Critics' 2013 selections more mainstream than usual

But in a year when something as earthbound as Gravity wins four awards, it was inevitable that there would be few out-there choices. Even Spike Jonze's Her, despite its offbeat basic premise, is a Warner Bros. release. There's a limit to how far a big-studio-distributed movie will take even the most daring of ideas.

So, 2013's other (somewhat) offbeat Los Angeles Film Critics winners were:

  • Best Supporting Actress Lupita Nyong'o for Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave.
  • Best Screenplay winner Before Midnight – the Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) sequel written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke.

Also worth noting, there was some overlapping between the choices of the Los Angeles and New York film critics, such as Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto and Sarah Polley's documentary Stories We Tell, about the complex relationship between her parents (including a surprising revelation).

See below the full list of this year's Los Angeles Film Critics winners.

Her Joaquin Phoenix: Los Angeles Film Critics de facto runner-up despite Best Film winHer with Joaquin Phoenix. Even though Spike Jonze's Her tied with Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity for Best Picture, it was the de facto runner-up at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Critics Awards. The (near-)futuristic story of a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who develops a relationship with his Scarlett Johansson-voiced computer operating system, Her came in second in the Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Music Score categories. Its only other win was for Best Production Design (K.K. Barrett), surprisingly beating Andy Nicholson's showier Gravity work.

Los Angeles Film Critics' 2013 winners

Best Picture (tie): Gravity & Her.

Best Foreign-Language Film: Blue Is the Warmest Color.

Runner-up: The Great Beauty, dir.: Paolo Sorrentino.

Best Actress (tie): Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Color.

Best Actor: Bruce Dern, Nebraska.

Runner-up: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave.

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave.

Runner-up: June Squibb, Nebraska.

Best Supporting Actor (tie): James Franco, Spring Breakers; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity.

Runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her.

Best Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight.

Runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her.

Best Animated Film: Ernest & Celestine.

Runner-up: The Wind Rises.

Best Documentary: Stories We Tell.

Runner-up: The Act of Killing, dir.: Anonymous, Christine Cynn & Joshua Oppenheimer.

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity.

Runner-up: Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis.

Best Editing: Alfonso Cuarón & Mark Sanger, Gravity.

Runner-up: Shane Carruth & David Lowery, Upstream Color.

Best Music Score: T Bone Burnett, Inside Llewyn Davis.

Runner-up: Arcade Fire & Owen Pallett, Her.

Best Production Design: K.K. Barrett, Her.

Runner-up: Jess Gonchor, Inside Llewyn Davis.

New Generation Award: Producer Megan Ellison (2013 credits include American Hustle & Her).

Douglas Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video Award: Cabinets of Wonder: Films and a Performance by Charlotte Pryce.

Special Citation: Creative team of 12 Years a Slave.

Legacy of Cinema: The Criterion Collection.

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards' bypassed movies

Whether because competition was tight, or they weren't all that well liked, or not many critics got the chance/bothered to check them out, missing from the Los Angeles Film Critics' list of winners and runners-up were the following:

LAFCA Awards: A few potential upsets

Dec. 7: Here's a list of (theoretically) possible – major and majorer – upsets at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.

  • Oscar Isaac & Carey Mulligan for Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis.
  • Tobias Lindholm's A Hijacking or Haifaa Al-Mansour's Wadjda as Best Foreign Language Film.
  • Gabriela Cowperthwaite's Blackfish as Best Documentary.
  • Maribel Verdú for Pablo Berger's Blancanieves.
  • Robert Redford for the Redford-directed The Company You Keep.
  • Greta Gerwig for Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha.
  • Production designer Catherine Martin for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.
  • Idris Elba for Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
  • Ben Stiller for the Stiller-directed The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or perhaps Will Ferrell for Adam McKay's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Kidding.

 

Los Angeles Film Critics Association website.

Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann The Emigrants image: Svensk Filmindustri.

Joaquin Phoenix Her image: Warner Bros.

“Los Angeles vs. New York Film Critics: Which Group Dares to Make More Offbeat Choices?” last updated in July 2018.

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