Sunday, December 7, 2014

'Boyhood' dominates busy day of critical kudos

There were three critics groups announcing their awards today (props to all those folks who sat at there computer for 12 hours watching the drip feed of winners on Twitter): Boston Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Online, and the LA Film Critics Association. All three of them echoed the New York Film Critics Circle's decision to name Richard Linklater's Boyhood the best film of 2014.
Linklater himself also took all three Best Director prizes, but wasn't even in a timezone where he could hear all the good news! Instead he was overseas at the British Independent Film Awards, where his critical darling won Best International Film. Talk about an eventful day!

Beyond those top two categories, the only other race which saw a unanimous winner from all three organizations was Best Documentary, which predictably went to Citizenfour. I've only seen a couple of docs this year (the other being the enjoyable if unremarkable Life Itself), so I'll have to catch up with a lot of the other contenders before deciding if all this praise for this one is justified.

After the jump I'll list the winners and runner-ups of the LAFCA with some thoughts:

Best Film: Boyhood
Runner-up: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Runner-up: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

While Boyhood shapes up to run the gamut of critical prizes, I'm glad the LA crowd has made a real effort to bring Grand Budapest back around. It's a wonderful film that deserves so much to be in the Best Picture conversation, but won't unless the critics remind Oscar voters that it came out this year.

Best Actor: Tom Hardy, Locke
Runner-up: Michael Keaton, Birdman
The LAFCA often stumps for under-the-radar performances with little hope of an Oscar nomination, and this is one of them. The runner-up status is still a boon for Keaton.

Best Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Runner-up: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
I can entertain the argument that Arquette is a lead in Boyhood, but I personally think of the film more as an ensemble piece around Ellar Coltrane's central performance.

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Runner-up: Edward Norton, Birdman
Every year there seems to be griping that the Best Actress race is thin. It's especially loud this year. But I actually think it's the Supporting Actor race that's the weakest, which we'll likely see reflected in the dominance of these guys, and only these guys, with awards bodies all season long. They're certainly at the top of my ballot, but there aren't too many others I'd consider nominating alongside them.

Best Supporting Actress: Agata Kulesza, Ida
Runner-up: Rene Russo, Nightcrawler
Nice mention for Nightcrawler, but I'd love to see some group throw that love Gyllenhaal's way.

Best Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Runner-up: Birdman
It's gonna be tough to predict the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay this year, because most critics groups are gonna be honouring original works. That race is STACKED this year, and these two are among the best of 'em.

Best Animation: The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Runner-up: The LEGO Movie
Glad that Takahata is getting some love this month. I don't think Kaguya is better than Dragons 2, but if Takahata gets the nomination I'll be rooting for him.

Best Documentary: Citizenfour
Runner-up: Life Itself
Clearly the two front-runners.

Best Foreign Film: Ida
Runner-up: Winter Sleep
I tend to wait for the shortlist to drop before hunting down the foreign language submissions, but it certainly seems that Ida is in the best position to be one of the Academy's final five.

Best Cinematography: Birdman
Runner-up: Mr. Turner
Is Lubezki en route to a second consecutive Oscar? Last DP to do that was John Toll in 95/96.

Best Editing: Boyhood
Runner-up: The Grand Budapest Hotel
There have been a ton of brilliantly edited films this year, but what's truly special is how varied the work has been. The patient yet fluid cutting of Boyhood is every bit as important to its film as the rapid-fire splicing of Whiplash, or the time-jumping rhythms of Edge of Tomorrow, or the action-scene construction of Captain America, or the invisible transitions of Birdman are to their respective films. And that's just scratching the surface!

Best Score: (TIE) Inherent Vice AND Under the Skin
Under the Skin is one of those early-year releases I've been meaning to catch-up with, along with LEGO Movie, Noah, and The Immigrant.

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Runner-up: Snowpiercer
Believe it or not, these are also my two favourites of the year (so far) in terms of production design, but I won't tell you which one comes out on top just yet!

New Generation Award: Ava DuVernay, Selma
There are plenty who would argue that DuVernay would have merited this sort of award more for her 2012 indie Middle of Nowhere, but I can understand why any critics group would want to have this likely Oscar player spoken for in some way, shape or form.


  1. It's obvious that Boyhood is the critics' darling, but I'm still a little worried about how the Oscars will respond to it. Grand Budapest Hotel really needs all the help it can get. I was not a huge fan of Noah, but I hope you enjoy the earlier year releases and look forward to your reviews to them.

    1. They won't likely be full reviews. Time is short part of the year.

    2. That's understandable. I still enjoy your small capsule reviews even though they aren't as big as your full-fledged ones.