The New York Film Critics Circle announce their film honors early, so you know just who you are going to see at their annual awards dinner: with Boyhood taking top honors, the team was a distinct presence at Tao Downtown, with Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, the star, Ellar Coltrane, and director Richard Linklater. The NYFCC's impeccable choices included Marion Cotillard for two roles: in The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night, Timothy Spall as the painter Mr. Turner, J. K. Simmons, as the music teacher from hell in Whiplash. Patricia Arquette won the best supporting actress for her role over a dozen years as Mason's mom in Boyhood: "Thank you for sharing your childhood and your chicken pox" she said to him. "Thank you for a role honoring all mothers."
Boyhood is on top of many best picture lists. The word masterpiece was thrown around quite a bit, and you have to admit that whatever the continued success of this epic movie in the box office, or its fate during the awards marathon that moves this week to Los Angeles, Boyhood is unique in its approach to telling a family story, and in that case emblematic. Distributor IFC Films, who believed in this movie over its lengthy gestation, was unofficially honored as well as well for the Best First Film, The Babadook, and Two Days, One Night. This too was a big night for the smaller distributors like Music Box, with its winner for Best Foreign-Language Film award, Ida.
Paul Shrader introduced Ida's director Pawel Pawlikowski, noting the Polish born filmmaker "forewent the tricks of cinema;" true, the black and white drama set in the aftermath of the Holocaust and the Communist era in his birth country is stunning, reminding everyone of old fashioned aesthetics. Pawlikowski used a first time cameraman and essentially told him how to frame every shot, he said at a luncheon in his honor at the legendary "21" earlier the same afternoon on Monday. After taking the stage at Tao, he spoke about seeing the Shrader scripted Taxi Driver as a young boy, walking around as Travis Bickle: "The reason I don't use the tricks of cinema is I am not very good at them."
This is the way with awards dinners, the ultimate tributes, a love fest with so many actors supporting their friends: Maggie Gyllenhaal with Peter Sarsgaard, her brother Jake, Bill Murray who presented a special award to MoMA film curator Adrienne Mancia, John Lithgow, Kyra Sedgwick, to name just a few. Damien Chazelle who directed J. K. Simmons, honored as Best Supporting Actor, insisted that the well known actor of Spiderman and HBO's Oz fame, among other works, was really kind, cracking jokes on the Whiplash set, in between takes in which he causes Miles Teller's character to bleed on his drum kits.
The charming, well-mannered Phil Lord, a Dartmouth graduate who with his partner Christopher Miller received the Best Animated Film Award for The LEGO Movie, thanked Pixar for not making a movie this year. Several presenters and award recipients noted their worst reviews: speaking at this event on behalf of Wes Anderson who received the Best Screenplay award for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Bob Balaban shouted out to David Denby for essentially praising a movie, naming Balaban as the worst thing in it. (The New Yorker critic assured me he had no idea his review made such an impression). Timothy Spall put it best, "It's really f--king lovely to get an award." His words may also apply to reviews, good, and bad.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.