I should have streamed Support The Girls last night. That way I’d have something substantial to say about Regina Hall having yesterday won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress award. But I probably won’t be able to see it until Sunday. I have to catch Mary Poppins Returns this evening, and tomorrow I’ll be running around Manhattan the whole day.
For the sake of discussion I’m just going to repeat the basics, and offer what others are saying.
I mentioned yesterday that “nobody” had Hall on their top-five Best Actress contenders list, although some critics (including Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn and David Ehrlich) wrote some very positive things about Support The Girls and Hall’s performance last March when it premiered at SXSW.
Magnolia and Ginsberg-Libby offered Support The Girls press screenings last July and August, but it opened two days before Telluride and — this isn’t nothing — it made a grand total of $129K domestic. Not a typo — it made $129K all in.
It would be one thing if the NYFCC had given Hall a special stand-out, we-love-you, keep-on-keepin’-on award, but they gave her their Best Actress award, and that presumably means they felt Hall was better (stronger, more penetrating, more extra-special, more shake-the-rafters) than Melissa McCarthy‘s performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me. Or Glenn Close‘s in The Wife. Or Viola Davis‘s work in Widows. Or even Lady Gaga‘s in A Star Is Born.
Really? Better than McCarthy?
Some are saying that the NYFCC voted for Hall as a show-off gesture, and that it’s (a) partly about looking hip and ahead-of-the-curve and and (b) partly about delivering a huge fuck-you to the Gold Derby prognosticators for sticking to the same five or six Best Actress contenders. I completely agree with this sentiment when it comes to 90% of the GD members having refused to put First Reformed star Ethan Hawke on their Best Actor lists, but I also sympathize with their not having paid any attention to Hall, mainly because I haven’t seen it. (And I’m obviously not proud of this dereliction.)
The L.A. Film Critics Association has been playing this “nyah, nyah” game this for years, handing out awards to eccentric outlier performances as a way of (a) giving the finger to conventional award-season wisdom and (b) trumpeting their own deliberative edge and outside-the-box coolness. Not to mention their totally infuriating foodie thing in which they take a bagel-and-lox-and-cream cheese break in the middle of voting.
I believe there’s something to both motives. I believe that the NYFCC wokers do want to be seen as The Cool Kidz Who Set Their Own Standards and Make Their Own Rules and are Voting Ahead of the Curve.
Indiewire film editor and NYFCC chair Eric Kohn replies: “There is no groupthink to the NYFCC voting process. The rules are right there on the site. Nobody’s ‘using’ any single award for their private agenda. A lot of people genuinely love this movie, myself included — it was on my favorite movies of the year list — and I raved about it way back at SXSW last March. It’s an amazing showcase for Hall’s talents, and a side of her most people have never seen before.”