The season has only just begun but it’s already feeling like it’s going to be a battle between Moonlight (Gotham winner) and Manchester by the Sea (National Board of Review winner) with each making pit stops at the top spot amongst critics groups throughout December. Both films are the highest rated films of 2016 from the group so it’s going to be interesting to see where they fall. Will they spread the wealth between the two or fall on the side of one? Or, will the voting structure allow a third film to break through the tight factions that are Team Moonlight and Team Manchester? This is where something like La La Land could break in and stomp through on its way to the Dolby. The Artist won here so it’s not crazy to think another musical could pull it off.
The NYFCC doesn’t simply align itself with the most indie of films, nor the most popular, or even an early Best Picture Oscar frontrunner. They tend to dip their toes in all of these ponds, making them a bit hard to predict. They’ve given their top award to The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (popular and future Best Picture Oscar winner), Far From Heaven and Mulholland Dr. Only twice in the last ten years though have their Best Picture winners not at least gone onto a BP nomination at the Oscars; 2006’s United 93 and last year’s Carol.
I’m going with Moonlight for them in Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay with a shot for Naomie Harris (NBR winner) to pick up another Supporting Actress win. With Michelle Williams losing out on NBR and being snubbed at the Indie Spirits she might not be as solid as we once thought.
In Supporting Actor, another category the NYFCC winner that usually parlays into an Oscar nomination, I’m looking to Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water (also an NBR winner this year) with a possible surprise showing for Ralph Fiennes in A Bigger Splash. But, if the group goes Moonlight or Manchester heavy don’t be surprised if Mahershala Ali or Lucas Hedges end up here.
Best Actress, what I predict is going to be the most heated category of this awards race, is going to be very interesting. I think Isabelle Huppert (Elle) will take this but it’s no slam dunk. The NYFCC doesn’t rush to reward foreign language performances here (not as much as their coastal counterpart LAFCA does anyway). Marion Cotillard won in a dual citation for The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night in 2014 but you’d have to go all the way back to 1985 when Norma Aleandro won for The Official Story. The safe bet is probably Natalie Portman in Jackie or Emma Stone in La La Land (my alt) but Huppert’s performance, from a cinema legend coming into her own as an awards player, might be too much to ignore. On her side if she wins – only three times since 1999 has the Best Actress winner at NYFCC not gone onto an Oscar nomination. Speaking of Cotillard’s recent double citation, we could also see Amy Adams here with Arrival and Nocturnal Animals. She just won NBR’s Best Actress this week.
Here are my full predictions for tomorrow New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) winners, plus alternates to cover my bases.
Alternate: Manchester by the Sea
Winner: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Alternate: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Alternate: Manchester by the Sea
Winner: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Alternate: Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Winner: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Alternate: Emma Stone, La La Land
Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Alternate: Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash
Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Viola Davis, Fences
Alternate: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Best Animated Film
Winner: The Red Turtle
Alternate: Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Foreign Film
Alternate: The Handmaiden
Best Non-Fiction Film
Winner: O.J.: Made in America
Best First Film
Winner: The Witch