a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Mad Max1OK, so “Mad Max: Fury Road” was awarded Best Picture of 2015 by the National Board of Review. A real-head (and knee) slapper, if you ask me. However, TOMORROW we have the New York Film Critics announcing their winners, and I am so sure that “Mad Max:Fury Road” is going to be NOWHERE on their list of winners.

Who will win? Probably “Spotlight” OR maybe the powerful Hungarian film on the Holocaust “Son of Saul.”

The NYFCC realizes, fully, its’ position of the first SERIOUS awards that are being given each year. And this kind-of-up-in-the-air year where there seemed to be a very open field, may suddenly be limited to the coronation of “Spotlight,” a fine film, by a fine director Tom McCarthy and a stellar ensemble cast including last year’s Oscar snubbee Michael Keaton, ably supported by Marc Ruffalo, who has got the best,most emotional part, Rachel McAdams, ‘Mad Men’s John Slattery and Bway’s Brian D’Arcy James.

I liked it A LOT. But for some reason, I didn’t love it. It’s cold. It’s cerebral. It’s about investigative journalism, the type of which has almost gone out the window in this age of Internet Everything.It’s nostalgic for the age when Newspapers ran the world.

It’s set in the past, and it depicts it accurately. Boston in the 1980s. It’s got it down. And the writing, as you’d expect from a film about journalists and journalism, is very, very good. It’s subject is the uncovering, by these dedicated, dogged journos, of a wide-spread cover-up of child abuse within the Catholic Church. So it’s also a shocking film, too.

Neither the Gotham Awards NOR the National Board of Review are made up of press. But of course, the New York Film Critics ARE press, and so a film about journalisms’ finest hour, I think will carry the day tomorrow. Not the ridiculous “Mad Max:Fury Road.” No. That won’t happen again. Even with the Golden Globes, I don’t think so. Even THEY aren’t that silly.

The National Board of Review’s acting winners are another matter entirely. Brie Larson for Best Actress for “Room.” Yes! And I think that will be seconded by the NYFCC tomorrow. This tiny, little, Canadian/Irish, but utterly brilliant film NEEDS their stamp of approval, and I think it will get it here, honoring Larson. She looks like a winner that can’t be stopped. I certainly hope so. She deserves it. Brie Larson 2That role in “Room”of a kidnapped-and-raped-for-seven-years while she was held captive by the rapist, mom, was one of the most difficult an actress ever had to essay. It was a killer.
Matt Damon 1Matt Damon won Best Actor for “The Martian” and I think he will be nominated for the Oscar, too. And since the Golden Globes have put “The Martian” in their Musical/Comedy section, they will have to put Damon in that,too. And he could win that.

So good for Matt, and for Ridley Scott, who won Best Director for “The Martian” and I think the 77 year old Scott is going to be for sure nominated for the Oscar for his direction and his being Oscar-less so far in his long career, I think the Academy is going to award him there, too. He directed “The Gladiator” which won Best Picture, back in the day, but HE didn’t win Best Director. It went to Stephen Soderberg for “Traffic.” “The Martian” was the big winner with three awards. Or four, if you count it’s being listed in the NBR’s Top Ten List.

Who will win Best Actor from the NYFCC tomorrow? Well, there’s a little hint in the National Board’s completely ignoring “The Revenant”. The NYFCC may do the same, and I think they may give it to the astonishing, almost solo performance of Geza Rohrig as Saul in “The Son of Saul.” “Saul” might also get best director for the first time helmer Hungarian Laszlo Nemes. Although, wait a tic.

The NYFCC has a category for “Best First Film” or “Best Debut Director” and that could be Nemes.

Also Best Actor is where Eddie Redmayne could turn up for his transformative, ground-breaking performance as  “The Danish Girl.”

As for Supporting the National Board of Review’s naming of Sylvester Stallone for Best Supp. Actor for “Creed” really does help Stallone get even further into the Oscar conversation in that category for his portrayal of the aging, ailing Rocky Balboa. I think this really means he will get an Oscar nomination. And a Golden Globe nomination, too.

“Creed” is a runaway, unexpected success, and every one wants to get back on to the Rocky nostalgia train, so yes, there’s room in this category and I could certainly see Stallone’s legendary Rocky role muscling his way in. That also won Best Picture way back when, but Stallone as an actor, went un-awarded on the Big Night.

Supporting Actress for Jennifer Jason Leigh for the as yet unseen “Hateful Eight” is an unknown. This could help her. “Hateful Eight” also got a Best Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino, and this means that this Weinstein film, that the NBR saw LAST, is probably better than it looks in trailers. Another snow-bound Western? Really? I mean on top of “The Revenant”?

Well, they left “The Revenant” off their top ten list. “Spotlight” was there, but nowhere else, and also nowhere to be seen, again, was Weinsteins’ other Oscar seeker “Carol.” Which the Gothams also did not award. Though they nominated it, and gave its’ director Todd Haynes a career award.

So as I predicted the NBR, not a press organization, did not prominently award “Spotlight” whereas the Gothams gave it three awards, including Best Picture. So tomorrow with NYFCC, I am fearlessly predicting that “Spotlight,” a very, very good film that holds up journalists as its’ heroes, will shine all over the place.Spotlight2

Here are a lot of what the National Board of Review chose as their winners today.

Best Film:  Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Director:  Ridley Scott – The Martian
Best Actor:  Matt Damon – The Martian
Best Actress: Brie Larson – Room
Best Supporting Actor:  Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Best Supporting Actress:  Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Best Original Screenplay:  Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Best Adapted Screenplay:  Drew Goddard – The Martian
Best Animated Feature:  Inside Out
Breakthrough Performance:  Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation & Jacob Tremblay – Room
Best Directorial Debut:  Jonas Carpignano – Mediterranea
Best Foreign Language Film:  Son of Saul
Best Documentary:  Amy
William K. Everson Film History Award:  Cecilia De Mille Presley
Best Ensemble:  The Big Short
Spotlight Award:  Sicario, for Outstanding Collaborative Vision
NBR Freedom of Expression Award:  Beasts of No Nation & Mustang

Top Films
Bridge of Spies
Creed
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Spotlight
The Martian
Room
Sicario
Straight Outta Compton

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