By Matt Neglia
So now with the National Board Of Review (NBR) and the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) out of the way, we look towards the next really big critics organization in the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA). They are notorious for their "outside the box" choices, recognizing under the radar and inspiring performances and pieces of work from the year in cinema. What will they go for this year? You're guess is as good as mine, but click below to see if we end up right anyway.
In examinging LAFCA's previous winners for Best Picture and Best Director (They also do runners up) here's what the past few years tell us...
Best Picture: "Spotlight" (Runner Up: "Mad Max: Fury Road")
Best Director: George Miller for "Mad Max: Fury Road" (Runner Up: Todd Haynes for "Carol")
Best Picture: "Spotlight"
Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu for "The Revenant"
LAFCA became the first critics organization to award "Spotlight" Best Picture last year and also matched Oscar with its award for Screenplay, also to "Spotlight." "The Revenant" was not necessarily a critics darling (81% RT & 76 Metacritic) and also had not opened yet at the box office where it generated its positive word of mouth with audiences and nearly built up enough steam to take down "Spotlight." Critics were championing "Mad Max: Fury Road" pretty hard (Especially George Miller in Director) which helped it to contend and win in many of the technical categories at the Oscars that year, but nothing above the line.
Best Picture: "Boyhood" (Runner Up: "The Grand Budapest Hotel")
Best Director: Richard Linklater for "Boyhood" (Runner Up: Wes Anderson for "The Grand Budapest Hotel")
Best Picture: "Birdman"
Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu for "Birdman"
No surprises here. Richard Linklater and "Boyhood" in general ran the gauntlet in critics awards throughout 2014 with "Birdman" winning occassionally here and there. Critics were very behind "Boyhood," awarding it Best Picture & Best Director awards at NYFCC, CFCA, BSFC, WAFCA and BFCA. It was not until we got to Phase 2 of the Oscar season that people started to recognize that "Boyhood" wasn't everything that the critics were hyping it up to be and they jumped ship to "Birdman" where that film went on to win the Industry Awards of PGA, DGA, SAG and eventually the Oscar as well. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" officially found its way into the awards season conversation starting here which lasted all the way up until the Oscars where like "Mad Max: Fury Road" it was nominated for a ton of Oscars and walked away with the majoritiy of the technical awards that year.
Best Picture: "Gravity" & "Her" (TIE)
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron for "Gravity" (Runner Up: Spike Jonze for "Her")
Best Picture: "12 Years A Slave"
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron for "Gravity"
What an interesting year this was. "Gravity" was always the number 2 to "12 Years A Slave" all season in the Best Picture category and gained some serious steam on it as well tying with it at the PGA and also winning the DGA for Director Alfonso Cuaron. It's no surprise that it won here (Along with "Her" which we're also not discounting). "12 Years A Slave" had just been the runner up at the NYFCC for Best Picture where it did win Best Director for Steve McQueen but this was pretty mcuh Cuaron's year for his technical achievement which ended up winning 7 Oscars in technical categories (Seeing a trend here?) along with Best Director. The conversation of "Gravity" potentially going all the way started here and it certainly came close.
Best Picture: "Amour" (Runner Up: "The Master")
Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson for "The Master" (Runner Up: Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty")
Best Picture: "Argo"
Best Director: Ang Lee for "Life Of Pi"
Another very odd year for the Oscars as Ben Affleck's Best Director snub came to define the entire year. "Zero Dark Thirty" was the early on critical favorite after winning Best Picture and Best Director from BSFC, CFCA, NBR, NFCC & WAFCA. However, a Phase 2 takedown attacking the film's more controversial aspects paved the way for the crowd pleasing "Argo" to triumph but Affleck's Director snub (As well as Bigelow's for "Zero Dark Thirty") allowed Ang Lee to win the Oscar after managing wins from only Kansas City Film Critics & London Film Critics Circle. LAFCA loves Paul Thomas Anderson (Even managing to award "Inherent Vice" for Best Music in 2014) so it's no surprise that he had a strong showing here with "The Master" despite that film not managing to get any Oscar nomiantions outside of acting for Pheonix, Hoffman and Adams. This is however, where we started to see the support for "Amour" which ended up surprising many becoming the first foreign language film since "Letters From Iwo Jima" to be nominated in Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars.
Best Picture: "The Descendants" (Runner Up: "The Tree Of Life")
Best Director: Terrence Malick for "The Tree Of Life" (Runner Up: Martin Scorsese for "Hugo")
Best Picture: "The Artist"
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist"
LAFCA has their favorites and Alexander Payne is one of them as they had previously awarded his film "Sideways" both Best Picture & best Director in 2004. So while "The Descendants" did win Best Picture here as well (Along with a runner up mention for screenplay), they instead turned their eyes towards more ambitious and technical works of art (Antoher trend here) with Terrence Malick and runner up Martin Scorsese. "The Artist" did not show up in any of their awards at all (Not even in the runners up), which is as we go back is the first time this has happened. It stands to reason that you can expect that whatever is our Best Picture winner this year, expect them to show up somewhere in their mentions tomorrow.
Best Picture: "The Social Network" (Runner Up: "Carlos")
Best Director: Oliver Assayas for "Carlos" & David Fincher for "The Social Network" (TIE)
Best Picture: "The King's Speech"
Best Director: Tom Hooper for "The King's Speech"
Much in the same way that "Boyhood" dominated Phase 1 of the awards season with its early on critics wins, nothing could stop "The Social Network." The film saw director David Fincher teaming up with writer Aaron Sorkin to create one of the best reviewed films of all time and when I say it dominated. It truly dominated, winning Best Picture and Director honors from NYFCC, NBR, BSFC, CFCA, FFCC, IFC, LVFCS, LFCC, NSFC, OFCC, OFCS, SFCC, SLFCA, UFCA, VFCC, WAFCA, BFCA & GG. It was unprecedented and eventually fatigue started to settle in and the unlikeable characters of "The Social Network" could not match the crowd pleasing and rousing "The King's Speech" backed by a successful awards campaign from Harvey Weinstein that urged audiences to find their voice in Phase 2.
So with all of that said, let's see where things stand so far...
"La La Land" - NYFCC
"Manchester By The Sea" - NBR
"Moonlight" - IFP
We all know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these three films will most likely pop up in at least in one place tomorrow whether it be in the actual awards winners or the runners up. My gut tells me that this is where they reward "Moonlight" with "La La Land" being the runner up. Before "Spotlight" LAFCA had not correctly predicted the Best Picture winner since 2009 with "The Hurt Locker" winning (Becoming the rare critical favorite to win the majority of the critics awards and survive Phase 2 of the awards season going on to eventually win Best Picture & Best Director). After that, you have to go all the way back to 1993 where "Schindler's List" won to find their last matching Best Picture winner.
If we assume that "La La Land" is going to win Best Picture, then I fully ecpect them to go for "Moonlight" and to possibly award Martin Scorsese Best Director for "Silence" seeing as how they came close to doing so in 2011 and did not in 2006 when he won the Oscar for "The Departed." The last time they awarded him, he won back in 1990 for "Goodfellas." My runner up option will most likely go to Barry Jenkins or Damien Chazelle but don't be surprised to...well be surprised.
Best Picture: "Moonlight" (Runner Up: "La La Land")
Best Director: Marttin Scorsese for "Silence" (Runner Up: Barry Jenkins for "Moonlight")
Best Actor: Casey Affleck for "Manchester By The Sea" (Runner Up: Viggo Mortensen for "Captain Fantastic")
Best Actress: Emma Stone for "La La Land" (Runner Up: Isabelle Huppert for "Elle")
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali for "Moonlight" (Runner Up: Adam Driver for "Silence")
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for "Fences" (Runner Up: Naomie Harris for "Moonlight")
Best Screenplay: "Manchester By The Sea" (Runner Up: "Moonlight")
Best Cinematography: "Silence" (Runner Up: "La La Land")
Best Producton Design: "La La Land" (Runner Up: "Arrival")
Best Editing: "La La Land" (Runner Up: "Moonlight")
Best Music Score: "Moonlight" (Runner Up: "Arrival")
Best Foreign Language Film: "Toni Erdmann" (Runner Up: "Elle")
Best Documentary: "O.J.: Made In America" (Runner Up: "Gleason")
Best Animated Film: "Kubo & The Two Strings" (Runner Up: "Zootopia")
You can follow Matt and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture
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Fourteen - GOTHAM
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Once More Unto The Breach - EFA
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The Endless Trench - EFA
Mank - HFCS
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Possessor - FFCC
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