Last night the New York Film Critics posted a video that saluted the 2020 awards winners and gave them a forum to say “many thanks, deeply grateful,” etc. Hollywood Elsewhere congratulates all the winners and also-rans. And congratulations to longtime NYFCC member Marshall Fine for shooting and assembling the below video — clean, classy, succinct.
But as long as we’re discussing the NYFCC and last month’s award announcements, it’s fair to repeat an opinion that I posted on 12.18.20.
Starting in ‘18 and concurrent with rising wokeness, the NYFCC awards began to move beyond eccentricity and into knee-jerk virtue signalling. In the same way that everyone in the entertainment industry is currently emphasizing the hiring of women and POCs, the NYFCC’s 2020 award choices were
mostly at least partly about kowtowing to sacred p.c. cows.
The Best Picture winner, Kelly Reichardt‘s First Cow, is a respected, finely crafted but rather somber mood trip about a mid 19th Century relationship film that…uhm, was faintly gayish but not acted upon? It bears the Reichardt stamp, you bet — quiet, studied, authentic but radiating a kind of chaste, closed-off feeling. I was
mystified stunned when the NYFCC chose it above Nomadland, Mangrove, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Father, Mank, etc.
I also scratched my head when Sidney Flannigan, star of Never Rarely Sometimes Always, won for Best Actress. Flannigan was playing a sadly damaged, extremely stand-offish character, but she barely emoted except in that one scene in which the abortion clinic lady asked those probing questions. Obviously an emotional keeper — it got to everyone — and I fully believed all of Flannigan’s scenes, but I never even considered the possibility of her winning anything, due respect. The last time I checked Best Actress awards were supposed to be about more than just the emotional impact of a single scene.
And Maria Bakalova won for Best Supporting Actress in the Borat sequel because she and Sascha Baron Cohen punked Rudy Giuliani and because her character stood up for herself as a strong and independent thinker? Out of all the worthy Best Supporting Actress performances to be seen in 2020 they chose Baklava’s? The award belonged to Mank‘s Amanda Seyfried or The Father‘s Olivia Colman.
These and some other calls, due respect, struck me as more than the usual quirky elitism. The 2020 NYFCC awards were about members fortifying their progressive credentials and their progressive vision of life (call it a party platform) in 2021.
Da 5 Bloods costar Delroy Lindo gave a vigorous, blustery, scattershot performance. I respect the first 50% or 60% of Da 5 Bloods, but I believe it’s been celebrated mainly because of last summer’s George Floyd tragedy and the subsequent BLM demonstrations, and because of Spike Lee‘s no-brainer decision to blend his story with issues of POC identity and certain ghosts of the past, and what was happening in the streets.
I’ve been saying this for three or four years, but the NYFCC members seem to live in their own rarified realm, and all they want to do is blow people’s minds (or certainly mine). They’ve almost become as weird as the LAFCA foodies Their awards are almost entirely about choosing the most socially deserving recipients. Feminism because sexism must be defeated, and support for black people any which way because of BLM. It’s all political.
When the NYFCC gave the Best Actress award to Regina Hall in 2018’s Support The Girls instead of Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me, I threw up my hands. A day after that awards announcement Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn implored me to watch Support The Girls and I did — it’s a decent little film and Hall is very good in it. But good enough to warrant a Best Actress award from the NYFCC?