Three major critics groups gave out their awards on Sunday and, while there were differences, the common thread isn’t going to give Facebook boy billionaire Mark Zuckerberg any relief for his PR agita. The awards also have some good news for Best Actress contender Natalie Portman and possible Best Supporting Actor shoo-in Christian Bale. Among the Best Actor possibilities, however, it was a split with between actors portraying Zuckerberg and his fellow real-life guys turned movie characters, Aron Ralston, and King George VI.
Simply because of geography, the Los Angeles Film Critics is probably the most influential group. The awards here, however, were the quirkiest of the three, with a split of sorts between “The Social Network” and this year’s cinephile cause celebre, “Carlos,” which may well be shut out of the Oscars altogether for a number of reasons. Though a shorter cut of the reportedly action-packed-yet-thoughtful multi-lingual French film about the real-life left-wing terrorist of the 1970s has been playing to general plaudits, a 5.5 hour television version of the film by Olivier Assayas has had shorter but successful engagements here at the American Cinematheque and is much on the mind of many of us film geeks (I just blew another chance to watch it all in a theater and I’m not happy about it.)
Assayas and “Network” director David Fincher tied while Fincher’s movie won Best Picture with “Carlos” as the runner up and also the Best Foreign Film winner. Aaron Sorkin won for his “Social” screenplay while Colin Firth won best actor for “The King’s Speech,” the first runner-up in the category was Edgar Rameriz for playing Carlos, yet another real life person. Kim Hye-Ja from the cinephile-approved Korean thriller “Mother” and Niels Arestrup from France’s violent “A Prophet” won in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor categories. While those awards are unlikely to be replicated by the Oscars, Jacki Weaver’s hopes for a possible Oscar nomination and even a win for the Australian critical and festival hit, “Animal Kingdom,” are looking up ever more with another Best Supporting Actress award. The LAFC site has the complete list of winners.
Not long before that award, the Boston Critics had their say. It was closer to a clean sweep for “Social Network” with Jessie Eisenberg picking up another Best Actor award and more laurels for David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin. Natalie Portman’s and Christian Bales’s already near certain Oscar nominations got slightly more certain with her win for Best Actress for “Black Swan” and his for Best Supporting Actor in “The Fighter.” A less expected winner in Boston for supporting actress was Juliette Lewis for a reportedly very brief, but apparently memorable, role in “Conviction.” You can see the complete list of winners at the Boston Film Critics’ site.
The New York Online Film Critics — not to be confused with the dead-tree and TV/Radio critics, whose awards are still to come — also gave the Best Picture, Direction, and screenplay awards to “Social Network,” though they spread the acting love around elsewhere. Natalie Portman picked up another win for Best Actress while James Franco entered the fray with his highly touted role in another fact-based film, “127 Hours.” Intriguingly, the Massachusetts-centric “The Fighter” did much better in NYC with yet another supporting actor award to Christian Bale and also a well-deserved nod to Melissa Leo (“Frozen River“), who plays Bale’s dysfunctionally loving mom in the film. You can see the complete list of winners at Awards Daily.
Finally, the American Film Institute has given its awards, which are essentially a top 10 list. Seeing as the Oscar nominations are also going to be in that form, it might not be a complete and total reach to think there might be some similarities between the two lists. The AFI selections are as follows (forgive the all caps formatting from AFI):
AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
TOY STORY 3
AFI SPECIAL AWARDS
THE KING’S SPEECH
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN
My strong hunch is that, if you want to see what the Oscar nominations will look like, first add “The King’s Speech” to the top list because for the academy’s love of classy films about wealthy and powerful Brits. Then, remove either “The Town” or “True Grit” because of the Academy’s traditional anti-genre bias/middle-brow snobbery, or “Winter’s Bone” because of its bias against low budget indies without big name stars. I think “Inception” will get in simply to avoid a fan-driven ‘net poop storm of massive proportions if a Christopher Nolan movie is once again not included.
Finally, I don’t usually cover TV here on PH, but since I’ve got them and it’s definitely of interest to me and most of you, the television choices of AFI. Another big cable TV win. Really, as someone who grew up largely disdaining television — I remember when it really was a vast wasteland with a few teeny-tiny oases — it pains me to admit that most of the really good new cinematic writing I’ve seen over the last several years has been on the ol’ idiot box.
AFI TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR
THE BIG C
THE WALKING DEAD
UPDATE: The New York Film Critics Circle awards came out just a little bit ago, and made it a clean sweep for “The Social Network” for Best Picture. That wasn’t the only news because the other awards were different from what we’ve been seeing. “The Kids Are All Right” got a big boost as did Annette Bening, Colin Firth, and Mark Ruffalo for — not, for a change, Christian Bale. I might follow up with that a bit tomorrow.
I will say I can’t get over the fact that Armond White is actually the chair of this group. A guy who makes his living attacking other film critics in a maddeningly pretentious and sometimes downright idiotic manner — and whose writing is often completely hideous and unreadable — having a position on a film critics’ group is just strange. Still, the slightly contrarian cast of this group of awards could perhaps his influence.