Chloé Zhao’s modern mood western The Rider has won The National Society of Film Critics (NSFC) Best Picture of 2018. The film won on the group’s fifth round of balloting, in a very tight race that saw Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA and Lee Chang-dong’s Burning as runners-up. It’s the first Best Picture win for the film since the first awards of the season, the Gothams, back in October. The film premiered at Cannes (in the Directors Fortnight section) back in 2017 then Telluride and landed Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Editing and Best Cinematography for that year. It popped into Sundance in 2018 and had its official US release by Sony Pictures Classics in April 2018.
Cuarón took the Director and Cinematography wins in overwhelming victories. He adds to his already healthy lead with critics there. ROMA also triumphed in Foreign Language Film and was the only film today to earn more than one win.
The acting wins went largely in step with critics’ favorites with Olivia Colman (The Favourite) for Best Actress, Ethan Hawke (First Reformed) for Best Actor and Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) for Supporting Actress. Steven Yeun (Burning) added to his total for Supporting Actor.
King now has the quartet of National Board of Review, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics, putting her in elite territory. Only one woman has ever gotten all four in this category – Dianne Wiest for Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986. She went on to win her first Oscar for her performance. Only two people have won all four and then lost the Oscar – Michelle Pfeiffer for 1989 (she lost Best Actress to Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy) and just last season Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project) lost Best Supporting Actor to Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
The Death of Stalin won the Screenplay prize for Armando Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin in a bit of a surprise grab. The last film to win Screenplay from the NSFC and not be Oscar-nominated was 1996’s Mother from Albert Brooks.
The NSFC began in 1966 and In the past 40 years, the Society only agreed with the Academy Award for Best Picture seven times: Annie Hall (1977), Unforgiven (1992), Schindler’s List (1993), Million Dollar Baby (2004), The Hurt Locker (2009), Spotlight (2015), and Moonlight (2016). Five others have received the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film: Z, Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), La nuit américaine (Day for Night), Préparez vos mouchoirs (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs), and Amour.
Voting is conducted via a weighted ballot system. On the first ballot, members vote for their top three choices (first choice = 3 points, second choice = 2 points, third choice = 1 point). The nominee that receives the most points and appears on a majority of ballots wins.
If no winner is declared on the first ballot, the category goes to a second ballot, this time without the proxies. Voting continues with as many rounds as needed until a nominee achieves a point plurality and a ballot majority.
For today’s vote 44 of the group’s 59 members voted: 17 at our meeting in New York, 4 at our satellite meeting in Los Angeles, 7 in other cities nationwide, and 16 by proxy. The proxy votes are admissible on the first ballot only.
Here is the full list of winners and runners-up from the National Society of Film Critics.
THE RIDER (44 points)
ROMA (41 points)
BURNING (27 points)
BEST DIRECTOR Alfonso Cuarón, ROMA (60 points)
RUNNERS-UP: Lee Chang-dong, BURNING (22 points) Chloé Zhao, THE RIDER (22 points)
Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED (58 points)
Willem Dafoe, AT ETERNITY’S GATE (30 points)
Ben Foster, LEAVE NO TRACE (25 points)
John C. Reilly, THE SISTERS BROTHERS and STAN & OLLIE (25 points)
Olivia Colman, THE FAVOURITE (36 points)
Regina Hall, SUPPORT THE GIRLS (33 points)
Melissa McCarthy, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (27 points)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Steven Yeun, BURNING (40 points)
Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (35 points)
Brian Tyree Henry, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, WIDOWS and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (32 points)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Regina King, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (47 points)
Elizabeth Debicki, WIDOWS (37 points)
Emma Stone, THE FAVOURITE (24 points)
Armando Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin, THE DEATH OF STALIN (47 points)
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (27 points)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, THE FAVOURITE (24 points)
Alfonso Cuarón, ROMA (70 points)
James Laxton, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (26 points)
Lukasz Zal, COLD WAR (24 points)
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
ROMA (44 points)
COLD WAR (34 points)
BURNING (30 points) SHOPLIFTERS (30 points)
BEST NON-FICTION FILM
MINDING THE GAP (35 points)
SHIRKERS (31 points)
AMAZING GRACE (24 points)
FILM HERITAGE AWARD: To the team of producers, editors, restorers, technicians and cineastes who labored for decades to bring Orson Welles’ THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND to completion for a new generation of movie lovers.
FILM HERITAGE AWARD: To the Museum of Modern Art for restoring Ernst Lubitsch’s 1923 film ROSITA, starring Mary Pickford.
SPECIAL CITATION for a film awaiting U.S. distribution: A FAMILY TOUR (Ying Liang, Taiwan/Hong Kong/Singapore/Malaysia)