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An Apology From a Member of the New York Film Critics Circle

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I don't normally write about such things but, as a member of the New York Film Critics Circle who was in attendance last night at my group's 79th annual awards dinner, I feel a need to make an apology for one of my colleagues' behavior.

Whether he was doing it to amuse or to garner publicity, the unfortunate remarks, delivered while one of the award winners was accepting an honor the group itself had chosen, was unconscionably rude behavior.

Still, it didn't deserve the kind of headline treatment it received in the trades today. It was simply someone acting up under the assumption that any attention, even bad attention, is just fine.

This was my 24th year with the NYFCC. I have served as the group's treasurer for the last two decades and have been chairman three times.

As critics, we tend to have strong opinions, some of which ring loudly simply by nature of being contrary. Most of us have, at some point or another as a critic, written what can only be described as snide minority opinions on some popular favorite that earned us howls of anger. If we're honest, we will even admit that we know when a position will be an unpopular one; we may even stake that position purposely.

As a member of a group of critics assembled for the purpose of choosing awards, I know there inevitably are hurt feelings when favorites are snubbed and work we disdain wins. We write about it and move on.

So I would never presume to apologize for my colleague's opinions; they are his own. In the case of this critic, I can say that we seldom share the same taste and yet, in the quarter-century that I have known him, I've had conversations at screenings or NYFCC meetings that were always collegial, cordial in disagreement.

But bad behavior -- rude behavior to invited guests -- is something else.

This commentary continues on my website.