Critics Awards 2: Judgment Daze

With six groups having voted, '12 Years a Slave' is in the lead, and Cate Blanchett looks like a lock

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jaap Buitendijk

And they’re off in the annual Critics’ Cup sweepstakes. American Hustle, ridden by Jennifer Lawrence, sprints to a surprising early lead, challenged by the filly her. Who? her! And here comes the favorite, 12 Years a Slave, racing past the contenders, with Gravity keeping pace on the inside rail. But don’t get too excited yet, folks. The contenders haven’t even reached the backstretch. 

In early December, groups of movie critics from various cities start announcing their awards for the year’s best films and filmmakers. Their choices are simply the consensus preferences of opinionated professionals, none of whom is a member of the motion picture Academy. Yet Hollywood and the burgeoning community of awards analysts see these lists of laureates as predictors of Oscar nominees and winners. Why? Why not? At this point in the race, the awards-stats mavens have nothing else to count.

(READ: Surprise wins for American Hustle and her in two New York movie groups)

So far, five critics groups — two from New York City, two from Boston and one from Los Angeles — have declared their choices, as has the National Board of Review, a collection of cinephiles who aren’t reviewers but do count, because the NBR is more than 100 years old and it throws a great awards dinner each January. So we’ll say six groups.

And we’ll torture one more metaphor. If the months-long Oscar campaign were likened to a single Presidential election day, these first few awards would be the “early returns.” And we of the New York Film Critics Circle, which launched the awards season on Dec. 3, would be Dixville Notch, the tiny New Hampshire town whose dozen or so inhabitants have the media-friendly habit of voting first, at midnight. (Their record in “predicting” the Presidential winner since 1960: 8 to 6. They almost always vote Republican.)

In last year’s early critics’ voting, the top two candidates for Best Picture were Zero Dark Thirty and Argo. That tandem held throughout the awards season, with the Ben Affleck’s film triumphing on Oscar night. This year’s selections are all over the place, with the six groups citing four movies — 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, her and Gravity — as Best Film.

(READ: How Argo and Zero Dark Thirty stacked up in the critics’ awards)

The NYFCC, of which I am a member, provided the initial jolt. We bypassed 12 Years a Slave, the expected favorite, for David O. Russell’s vivacious Abscam comedy American Hustle, awarding Slave only a Best Director prize for Steve McQueen. Next day, the NBR chose her, Spike Jonze’s futurist romance, as Best Film. McQueen’s scorched document of antebellum slavery was nowhere to be found on the NBR’s lengthy awards list. People began wondering whether reviewers were revolting against the film they were expected to champion.

With this past weekend’s votes of the four other groups — The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Boston Online Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Online — some order was restored, some clarity emerged. Three of the groups gave Best Film to 12 Years a Slave; and the L.A. Critics, an endearingly quirky bunch, split the award between her and Alfonso Cuarón’s out-of-this-world Gravity.

(SEE: Corliss’s “Top 10 Best Movies” list for 2013)

So far, each of what are thought of as the six major categories has a front runner with at least 50% of the votes. And in four of those categories, the pacesetter is 12 Years a Slave for Film, Director, Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o). Cate Blanchett has taken a dominant preliminary lead as Best Actress for her role as the suddenly impoverished one-percenter in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. And Jared Leto, most poignant as an AIDS-ravaged drag queen in Dallas Buyers Club, is ahead for the moment as Best Supporting Actor.

Tomorrow the Screen Actors Guild — whose winners are a smart predictor of the Oscar vote in the performance categories — unveils its nominations. And on Thu., the Hollywood Foreign Press Association reveals its Golden Globes shortlist. Come back then for an analysis of those selections.

(SEE: Mary Pols’ “Top 10 Worst Movies” list for 2013)

Here’s a rundown of the six sets of awards announced so far, in some of the more prominent categories, with speculation on how they will play with other critics and with Oscar voters. We give one point to each winner and a half-point for ties or split categories (like Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay).


12 Years a Slave  3
her 1.5
American Hustle 1
Gravity 0.5

I can’t complain about the choice of these films, since I selected all four among my 10 best of the year. The same quartet can be expected to appear on the long list of five to 10 finalists for the Academy’s Best Picture award, with Gravity winning in many technical categories and Slave a slim favorite to take the top prize. The year’s most eagerly anticipated film, Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, was late coming out of the editing room and was shown to critics only a day or so before they voted. A distant finisher in most groups, WoWS finished second in five categories — Film, Actor, Screenplay, Editing and Use of Music — at the Boston Film Critics Society. Ty Burr of the Boston Globe noted that some critics had not been able to see the Scorsese, and that if they had, WoWS might have won. Show up to screenings, people. It’s your job.



Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave 3
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity   2
Spike Jonze, her   1

Three disparate kinds of films display three different directorial skills: epic storytelling (McQueen), the expert integrating of actors within innovative digital technology (Cuarón) and the creation of romantic intimacy (Jonze). I expect the Academy will be torn between the impressive achievements of Cuarón and McQueen, and tilt toward the latter for the privilege of making him the first black to win Best Director. Other possible nominees in a crowded field: Scorsese, Jonze, Russell, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips and Joel and Ethan Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis.



Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave 3
Bruce Dern, Nebraska  2
Robert Redford,  All Is Lost 1

Except for Dern’s portrait of a cranky crackpot, Oscar’s Best Actor list should be filled with men who endure the worst. Ejiofor gets kidnapped into unimaginable servitude; Redford battles the elements alone on a disabled yacht. The two other top contenders on Oscar-watcher Anne Thompson’s actors list are Tom Hanks, also a kidnap victim (by Somali pirates) in Captain Phillips, and Matthew McConaughey, the Texas homophobe who gets AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club. An Academy prize for Redford would be in the nature of a Life Achievement Award, and he got one of those in 2002. We’d guess Ejiofor.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s tribute to Robert Redford and All Is Lost)


Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine 4.5
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr, Banks 1
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Color 0.5

Blanchett has been the presumptive winner since her movie opened in July, and time has not dulled the luster of her primacy. Other strong candidates would be Sandra Bullock for Gravity, Judi Dench as an elderly woman searching for her lost son in Philomena and Amy Adams, who’s great as a faux-British con woman in the Russell Hustle.



Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club 3.5
Will Forte,  Nebraska 1
James Gandolfini, Enough Said 1
James Franco, Spring Breakers 0.5

That was a nice gesture by the Boston Film Critics Society, naming the late Gandolfini for his gentle performance. And bravo to L.A. for citing Franco’s nutsy-cagey turn as the drug-dealing dude in the sort of artsy exploitation movie that rarely gets recognized by critics and, we have to say, almost never by the Academy. But Leto, who’s a sensitive charmer in Dallas Buyers Club, looks a lock for more critics’ awards and perhaps an Oscar.



Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave 3
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle 1
Octavia Spencer,  Fruitvale Station 1
June Squibb,  Nebraska

Nyong’o, a Yale Drama School grad making her feature-film debut, shows beatific strength as she undergoes a physical and spiritual flogging by sadistic slave-master Michael Fassbender. That’s a parlay that Oscar voters love. They also adore the whitest girl you know, Jennifer Lawrence, who’s dumb-smart and crass-sexy as Christian Bale’s neglected wife. But Lawrence won Best Actress earlier this year for Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. And at 23, she’ll be around for ages, fingers crossed, to contend for many more Oscars.

(SEE: Seven actors and their remarkable big-screen debuts)


Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight 2
Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said 1
Spike Jonze, her  1
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell,  American Hustle 1
Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis 0.5
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street 0.5

No, you’re right. Who cares?

In other categories chosen by all six groups, the sensual French drama Blue Is the Warmest Color scored four wins for Best Foreign Language Feature, the other votes going to The Past and Wadjda. Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises took 5½ of six points for Animated Feature (Frozen grabbing the other half-point). And The Act of Killing and Stories We Tell split Documentary Feature, with three votes each.


To: Respect Mr.Delk (Tel:010- 8531 4137 ; 139 1022 1796 ) and Ms.(Tel:010-8531 3521) !!!


Human Rights Commissioner ,

Political Section,

U.S. Embassy (China)



Merry X'mas !


---Reply @email !


Hope to Apply the Social Network in Human Rights and Legal !


He(Legal Citizen in China)



To:Respect Mr.Delk !

---Merry X'mas !


Use Your Information about Human Rights and Legal :


Application(Social Network...)






ValuePoint !


Please Forward @email to Political Section...... Sir !





Merry Xmas !

——Let_it_Snow .mp3 (From:

"Die Hard"…… )

To:Respect Mr.Ke

(Spokesperson of U.S. Embassy --- Beijing, China. Tel:010—85314480) !

I'm a Listener of VOA,I Really Hope to Join the Public

Discussion on VOA to Open the Terrible Facts Happening on My Body.

Because My Body has been Hurted by the Communist Dog Officals and No Any Explanation ......!

Now,I Only Can:

Sleeping on Bed,

Full of Pain and Fear,

Waiting for Death......!!!

——Evil than Syria!

Terrible than Syria!!!


He Xiao Jiang(ChongQing City)




Tel(Reporter of TV/with Video):13508335521

Tel(Lawyer/with *.Doc File):13032325285


My Search:Google—>2007.18.18

My Tel:18302322636

My eMail:



(Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor---August 2, 2013)

Acting Assistant Secretary ---Uzra Zeya :

We also raised specific cases such as Xu Zhiyong, Gao Zhisheng, Ni Yulan, Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xia, Dhondup Wangchen, Hairat Niyaz, and Hada to illustrate our concerns about the broader denial of rights affecting China’s citizens.

It is a forum where we need to engage. And most important, it is only one forum among many where we raise these concerns.

In China, as elsewhere, we strongly believe that change occurs within a society. Our hope is that discussions like the Human Rights Dialogue that we’ve just concluded, and the Legal Experts Dialogue that we agreed to hold in November will create more space for those working on such change.


2011 Human Rights Report

China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)

--- Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian statein which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount authority. CCP members hold almost all top government, police, and military positions.


Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:Share

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

In September villagers in Wukan, Guangdong Province, engaged in demonstrations against local government officials to protest the sale of village land. Officials asked the villagers to appoint representatives to address the issue. After negotiations failed, the authorities detained some representatives on December 11. On December 13, local government announced that one of the detained representatives, Xue Jinbo, had died of cardiac arrest while in custody. Xue’s relatives, who saw his body, believed he had been tortured and beaten to death. A local prosecutor denied the allegations and told media that Xue had a history of asthma and heart disease......



US B-52 bombers challenge disputed China air zone !

——In the face of tyranny, let no one doubt American credibility and reliability!


Biden Condemns China Air Zone !

(TOKYO—Providing assurance to an ally facing a spiraling territorial dispute with its powerful neighbor, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden strongly condemned China's decision to establish an air-defense zone over the contentious waters of the East China Sea as he warned that "the prospects of miscalculations and mistakes are too high !")


Merry Xmas !

——Let_it_Snow .mp3 (From:

"Die Hard"…… )

To:Respect Human Rights

Commissioner of UK

Embassy(Beijing, China) and

U.S. Embassy(Beijing, China) !


(From:) Uzra Zeya

(Acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor,

U.S. Department of State - Geneva, Switzerland


UPR 17th Session – Intervention for China):

"……We are concerned that China suppresses freedoms of assembly, association, religion, and expression, including on the Internet; harasses, detains, and punishes activists, including Xu Zhiyong and Yang Maodong; targets rights defenders’ family members and friends; and implements policies that undermine the human rights of ethnic minorities."


“America’s Future in Asia!”

——National Security Advisor Rice on U.S.-Asia Relationship

(20 November 2013)


I Hope to Join the Social Network of Human Rights and Legal .

Because Human Rights and Legal Decide My Survive as a Legal Citizen in China!


He Xiao Jiang(ChongQing City)




I B M Social Collaboration

(Engage with customers, partners, and employees to drive greater productivity, efficiency, and innovation)———


My Search:



(From:W S J)

—— All for One: China's New Deal!

(What appears to be the country's generous new bargain is actually a move to strengthen the state):


Pretty snotty about the screenplay category, especially from a writer.