After their head-turning Best Picture win for Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language last year, the National Society of Film Critics have gone back to the mainstream, awarding the true story journalism procedural Spotlight, the Best Picture of 2015. The win came as somewhat of a surprise as most pundits had pegged Mad Max: Fury Road, Carol or The Assassin (a favorite of new NSFC chair Justin Chang) to triumph. In the 50-year history of the NSFC, their Best Picture winner has only aligned with Oscar’s Best Picture five times: Annie Hall, Unforgiven, Schindler’s List, Million Dollar Baby and The Hurt Locker. With this win for Spotlight, the current Best Picture frontrunner, it could be six. The film was also the only to win more than one award, it also picked up the Screenplay honors.
The awards started with a big shock in Best Actors. Creed‘s Michael B. Jordan beat out favorites Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Geza Röhrig (Son of Saul) to become the third Michael to win the top 3 critics awards this season (Fassbender won LAFCA, Keaton won NYFCC). Things began to settle in with more predictable wins for Charlotte Rampling in Best Actress for 45 Years and Mark Rylance in Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies. Kristen Stewart picked up another trophy for Clouds of Sils Maria and inches herself closer to being a possible Best Actress Oscar contender.
The biggest loser today was Mad Max: Fury Road. After a strong season of critics wins in Best Picture and Best Director, the film was stopped in its tracks at the last major critics stop of the season. Todd Haynes won Best Director, to go along with his NYFCC win. For the stat-inclined, the last two winners of Best Director honors from NYFCC and NSFC were Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich/Traffic). They both went on to win the Best Director Oscar.
Here is the full list of National Society of Film Critics winners, runners-up and vote totals:
1. Michael B. Jordan (Creed) 29 points
2. Geza Rohrig (Son of Saul) 18
3. Tom Courtenay (45 Years) 15
1. Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) 57
2. Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) 30
3. Nina Hoss (Phoenix) 22
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) 56
2. Michael Shannon (99 Homes) 16
3. Sylvester Stallone (Creed) 14
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria) 53
2. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) 23
3. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) 17
3. Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy) 17
1. Spotlight (Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy) 21
2. Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman) 15
2. The Big Short (Charles Randolph and Adam McKay) 15
1. Carol (Ed Lachman) 25
2. The Assassin (Mark Lee Ping-bin) 22
3. Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale) 12
1. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy) 23
2. Carol (Todd Haynes) 17
3. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller) 13
1.Todd Haynes (Carol) 21
2. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) 21 (because he was on fewer ballots)
3. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) 20
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
1. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako) 22
2. Phoenix (Christian Petzold) 20
3. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien) 16
BEST NON-FICTION FILM
1. Amy (Asif Kapadia) 23
2. In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman) 18
3. Seymour: An Introduction (Ethan Hawke) 15
FILM HERITAGE: Film Society of Lincoln Center/Jake Perlin, Michelle Materre, “Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986”
FILM HERITAGE: Criterion Collection/L’Immagine Ritrovata for the restoration and packaging of “The Apu Trilogy” by Satyajit Ray
FILM HERITAGE: Association Chaplin for supervising the digital restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s Essanay Films
SPECIAL CITATION FOR A FILM AWAITING AMERICAN DISTRIBUTION: Radu Muntean’s “One Floor Below”
—————–THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS ———————-
The National Society of Film Critics counts among its members many of the country’s leading film critics. Its purpose is to promote the mutual interests of film criticism and filmmaking.
Founded in l966, the Society differs from other critical associations in a number of significant ways. In the first place, it is truly national. Its 53 members include critics from major papers in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Denver. Its members also include the critics not just of Time, The Wall St. Journal, The Nation, and The New Yorker, but also of The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, and prominent on-line sites. Second, membership is by election.
The Society represents movie criticism in the United States by supplying the official critic delegate to the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress and serving as the official American representative to FIPRESCI, the international federation of members of the film press. Besides responding to specific issues, such as imprisoned directors, film preservation, or the ratings system, the Society regularly meets early in January to vote on the Society’s awards for the finest film achievements of the year.
Our next book will be For All Ages: The NSFC on Children and Movies. Previous anthologies include The B List: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love. Prior to that The X List: The National Society of Film Critics’ Guide to the Movies That Turn Us On was published as a follow up to The A List: 100 Essential Films (2002). In the 1990’s, the Society publishedProduced and Abandoned: The Best Films You’ve Never Seen (1990); Foreign Affairs, its counterpart for foreign films (1991); Love and Hisses, a guide to the most controversial films and issues (1992); They Went Thataway: Redefining Film Genres (1993); and Flesh and Blood (1995). Earlier, the Society published six volumes of annual reviews, as well as The National Society of Film Critics on Movie Comedy (l977) and The National Society of Film Critics on the Movie Star (1981). The group can genuinely be said to represent the best of contemporary American film criticism.