Thursday, 5 December 2013

RACE REVIEW - HER, NEBRASKA UP, THE BUTLER, GRAVITY DOWN


Awards season has begun, and in truly curious fashion. Last year, it was the shock of seeing the as-yet-untested Zero Dark Thirty take home both top early critics awards, from the NYFCC and the NBR. This year, it's the shock of seeing the early favourites, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity lose big from those two organisations, with some notable surprises. But it's early days yet, and both NYFCC and NBR could easily be very wrong - after all, last year we all noted how even groups like the DGA can be very wrong, and the disparity between the two results we've seen this season so far suggests that any consensus may be hard to form this year.

Of course, 12 Years a Slave did reap some success, with considerable support from the NYFCC driving Steve McQueen to a Best Director win and some runner-up mentions in other categories. Interestingly, it and Inside Llewyn Davis were the only two films to appear on both NYFCC and NBR top lists, as the New York critics' controversial favourite, American Hustle, was neither the National Board's nor did it show up on their further Top 10 list. And the NBR's choice for its two top awards, Her, failed to make an appearance in New York.


With so much movement but from so few voices, it's not particularly sensible to draw any major conclusions just yet. Even last year, neither NYFCC nor NBR eventually proved terribly adept at predicting what would come next. That's not what they purport to do, though (the NYFCC wouldn't dare admit that it is!), and what they did do instead last year was give Zero Dark Thirty a valuable boost, even if it would eventually be so cruelly taken down. What they've done this year is confirm American Hustle's potential, and thrust Her into the race. Also benefitting are Inside Llewyn Davis, with clear support from both institutions, and Nebraska, with two acting awards from the NBR to add to its six Spirit nominations from last week.

Gravity made a small showing in runner-up slots in a couple of categories in New York, and a Top 10 mention from NBR. Lee Daniels' The Butler was hardly expected to make a strong showing, but its total absence can't be a good sign. Just wait for the Globes and the guilds, though. And Fruitvale Station has held up through the year, with great support from both groups, and the potential to give this small, independent film, a leg up into the Oscar race.