But in addition to their sometimes well-grounded, highly perceptive praising of stellar filmmaking and performances, the New York Film Critics Circle has (be honest) been in the grip of woke theology over the last four or five years. Most of us understand this, and the NYFCC honchos and spokespersons will deny it to their dying day.

For decades a NYFCC award was a gold-standard honor — a classy, triple-A stamp of irrefutable big-city approval. But since ’18 or thereabouts the NYFCC members have sought to integrate notions of quality with “the sacralization of racial, gender and sexual [identity],” as Matthew Goodwin put it in February 2021. In short, they’ve become known as a contender for the most reliably eccentric, woke-flakey critics group, neck and neck with the occasionally wokejobby Los Angeles Film Critics Association. (Note: HE has agreed on certain occasions with LAFCA award calls, hence the term “occasionally woke-jobby.”)

For me the syndrome seemed to begin in 2018 when the NYFCC handed their Best Actress award to Support The Girls‘ Regina Hall. For me there was no contest among the Best Actress contenders that year — Melissa McCarthy‘s performance in Can you Ever Forgive Me? was heads and shoulders above Hall’s, and yet the NYFCC allowed themselves to be guided by identity politics. They disputed this, of course.

IndieWire‘s Eric Kohn, a leader of the NYFCC’s Hall support group: “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.”

The following year the NYFCC handed their Best Actress trophy to Us‘s Lupita Nyong’o for no apparent reason other than her woke identity credentials. Posted on 12.14.19: “Seriously? Honoring Lupita Nyong’o’s performance was eight parts wokester virtue-signalling, and two parts serious regard for a noteworthy performance…trust me. The NYFCC used to be the NYFCC — now it’s an organizational ally of IndieWire‘s wokeness crusade. Good as she was in Jordan Peele’s interesting if underwhelming horror flick, Lupita basically delivered an intelligent, first-rate, Jamie Lee Curtis-level scream-queen performance with a side order of raspy-voiced predator doppleganger.”

HE believes that the NYFCC’s grand-slam wackadoodle happened in 2020, when they gave their Best Film award to Kelly Reichart‘s First Cow (a baffling, eccentric call for eccentricity’s sake), and their Best Actor prize to Da 5 Blood‘s Delroy Lindo, who played an furiously unstable Trump supporter (and in so doing beat out Judas And The Black Messiah‘s Lakeith Stanfield, who was far more deserving, not to mention The Father‘s Anthony Hopkins, Minari‘s Steven Yeun, The Sound of Metal‘s Riz Ahmed and Mank‘s…okay, let’s forget Gary Oldman).

Plus their Best Actress award went to Sidney Flanigan (Never Rarely Sometimes Always), basically for quietly weeping during an interview with a Manhattan-based abortion counselor after zero emoting throughout the entire film. They also gave their Best Supporting Actor award to Da 5 BloodsChadwick Boseman, basically because the poor guy had tragically passed a few months earlier, and their Best Supporting Actress: trophy to Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), which was based upon nothing other than the fact that she played a spunky woman from a small Eastern European village who wound up hoodwinking Rudy Giuliani in a hotel room.

How wackadoodle were their 2022 choices? I for one was…I was about to say flabbergasted when the NYFCC handed their Best Director award to RRR‘s S. S. Rajamouli — a virtue-signalling gesture if there ever was one, and a head-scratching accolade for a film that many of us regard as “flamboyant garbage…ludicrous, primitive crap that believes in ridiculous extremes and heroic absurdities.” But I wasn’t surprised given what the NYFCC has turned into. They also went for Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s Ke Huy Quan (“Short Round”) for Best Supporting Actor — strictly an identity call + a nod to the popularity of EEAAO among Millennials and Zoomers — and Nope‘s Keke Palmer for Best Supporting Actress…an award that made no sense as all given that Palmer merely flaunted her Millennial diva spunkitude.