The big question here is whether or not the NBR's choices will correlate with NYFCC's. Their tastes tend to be a little different, principally because NBR tends to have different tastes to about every other critic group in existence. Opening the season, many of their choices tend to become quite quickly forgotten as stronger contenders emerge throughout December. Perhaps this year, NYFCC won't suffer a similar fate - it's a more reputable organisation, more prestigious, and I expect that no matter when NBR could ever announce, its choices would be just as curious and just as easily ignored as ever. All that said, they do tend to have relatively conventional taste. After the jump, my predictions...
- The Artist
- The Descendants
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- The Help
- The Ides of March
- J. Edgar
- Midnight in Paris
- War Horse
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
alt: Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Last year, The Social Network swept the NBR, as it did so many of the critics' groups. I don't see them choosing David Fincher again, although if they've been screened the film (and I'm sure they have), he may be able to upset here. Other than that, though, again The Descendants is a very strong threat in this category. However, I don't see The Artist and The Descendants splitting the two top awards - whichever wins one will win the other here, I think.
George Clooney (The Descendants)
alt: Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
A while back, I might have predicted Leonardo DiCaprio to win this, and George Clooney to maybe win elsewhere for The Ides of March. But the landscape of the race has changed considerably since then. Of all the favourites, Clooney is still a safe pick for almost any Best Actor award this year at this point, and as aforementioned, the NBR loves him. Although if Brad Pitt wins here, he'll shoot straight into the lead.
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
alt: Viola Davis (The Help)
Meryl could win every critics' award going and still not win the Oscar come February. Two years ago, Sandra Bullock didn't win a single critics' award until BFCA, but swept the remainder of the season. If this is to be Streep's year though, she may not need an awful lot of critics' awards, but they can't hurt! If Viola is to win the Oscar, she too does not need these awards, as The Help is not expected to to particularly well until the industry groups announce, but if The Help is likely to catch on anywhere, it's here. Also look out for Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn.
Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
alt: Albert Brooks (Drive)
Brooks makes an appearance here only because he won the NYFCC. Otherwise, I don't think he's especially likely to win this one, although having said that, he can't lose now! I still expect Plummer to do very well with the critics' groups throughout December, and he is a strong candidate for this award. There's a very small chance that George Clooney also wins this award (for The Ides of March), which wouldn't be unheard of, although critics usually would group one actor's performances together in one accolade, whether leading or supporting, as NYFCC did with Brad Pitt yesterday.
Best Supporting Actress
Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)
alt: Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus)
Redgrave is probably going to pose a serious threat to every Supporting Actress award going this year, whether or not she starts winning any. But with the likelihood of The Descendants catching on very well here, and NBR's history of championing new talents or previously unrewarded performances, Woodley is a good fit here. This, however, remains one of the most wide open categories, so be prepared for anyone to win this.
Best Original Screenplay
Mike Mills (Beginners)
alt: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
The NBR likes to spread the wealth, so it maybe seems unlikely that they'd hand out two of their top awards to a film not even in their Top 10. But it is in their Independent Top 10, and it would appear that a film cannot appear in both. Last year, they chose Chris Sparling's script for Buried, a wild card choice which no other group even once mentioned, so it's reasonable to expect utterly anything to win in this category. Maybe even Dustin Lance Black could win here for J. Edgar, even with that film's evaporating popularity.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne and Jim Rash (The Descendants)
alt: Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian (Moneyball)
Two very strong contenders for this award. As I've mentioned, The Descendants could easily strike gold with NBR, so this is a safe prediction to make, particularly so when backed up by Moneyball, which won the NYFCC yesterday. As with Original Screenplay, the NBR has been known to make some very odd choices, often ignored by most or all other critics' groups, but I'm not predicting such a scenario this year. After all, last year, the winner here was The Social Network - the one category in which it did not lose steam come February.
Best Ensemble Cast
alt: Midnight in Paris
This is one of those categories which can be very difficult to predict, as most major groups don't have it, including Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA. And no, I don't think The Descendants is going to win so many awards, certainly not if it fails to win both Best Picture and Director. But individually, it looks quite strong in a number of categories at present.
Best Animated Feature
The Adventures of Tintin
I'm sticking with my NYFCC predictions here. The NYFCC didn't even bother with this category this year; maybe they felt that 'ghetto-ising' animated films was an antiquated procedure, or that there simply weren't enough good animated films this year to warrant such a category. To my mind, Tintin alone verifies it, and it's far and away the best animated film of the year. So, it makes sense to predict it here, right? After all, I'm not alone in my appreciation of this film, which may, eventually, be better reviewed than War Horse, Spielberg's other film this year.
- Into the Abyss
- African Cats
- Cave of Forgotten Dreams
- Page One: Inside the New York Times
Not sure at all yet. This could go any way, so I'll be extremely surprised if I get all six of these right. They generally choose six in this category. Into the Abyss remains one of the favourites; losing one out of one awards to Cave of Forgotten Dreams, another favourite in this category, and by the same director too does not diminish its chances.
Best Foreign Language Film
- Where Do We Go Now?
- Le Havre
- A Separation
- The Turin Horse
One again, anything could happen here. Considering that Where Do We Go Now?, Lebanon's official Oscar entry, was the surprise recipient of the TIFF People's Choice Award, it's sure to make a considerable impact on the Oscar race at some stage. All of these films, in fact, are official Oscar entries, but all are also strong contenders here nonetheless. I'm still unsure whether or not The Artist will be considered for foreign / foreign language by the critics' groups by and large - it may be different on a group by group basis.
Best Directorial Debut
Martha Marcy May Marlene
alt: Margin Call
I was so exceedingly intelligent as to forget about Margin Call when making my NYFCC predictions, and thus confidently predicted Martha Marcy May Marlene to win. I still think it'll do well in this category this year, but I can't deny that Margin Call has become a strong (and worthy) contender too. I'm not going to make any more such solid predictions any more though lol.
Best Breakthrough Performance
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
alt: Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)
It may seem odd to predict Woodley to win Supporting Actress but not Breakthrough Performance, especially so considering that Olsen is not my prediction for Best Actress. It doesn't often happen that a film wins for both its breakthrough director and star, but many films do not have both a breakthrough director and a breakthrough star. This could also be Brit Marling for Another Earth, or maybe Asa Butterfield for Hugo.
Best Independent Film
- Another Earth
- Jane Eyre
- Martha Marcy May Marlene
- My Week with Marilyn
- We Need to Talk About Kevin
- Win Win
They don't choose a winner for Best Independent Film, only an unranked Top 10, and no film which appears in their overall Top 10 (or top 11, of course) can also appear here. I'm pretty sure independent films can appear on that list though, and that they're not resigned to this one, although with the NBR it wouldn't surprise me. This list looks far too cosy for my liking; nowhere near that may edgy films will make it, nor nearly as many films which I like! But these ten are likely candidates all the same.
As with may critics' groups, they'll have a number of other awards, special awards and the like, which are beyond my range as a predictor. The NBR are probably announcing too soon after NYFCC to be able to ride any kind of wave which may have developed once the race has begun, as NYFCC is usually able to, announcing two or three weeks after NBR. So, their choices may look similar to what they might have looked like had NYFCC stayed put in mid-December. That is to say, their choices will be divisive, and very difficult to predict!