December 8, 2013

OSCARLAND: LA and Boston Don’t Clear Anything Up


A messy awards season became even messier with the results of today’s critics group awards.

The big prize of the day was the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which… tied.  Full results are here, but Best Picture went both to Gravity and Her, as different a pair of science-fiction stories as one can imagine.  That will help both films capitalize on the co-win (as will the fact that both were released by Warners), and it’s a particular help for Her, which is now very much in the Oscar race with this victory and last week’s at the National Board of Review.  Also boosted:  Bruce Dern, who took the Best Actor prize for Nebraska.  Best Actress?  Another tie, this time frontrunner Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine with Adele Exarchopolous for Blue Is the Warmest Color, which also took Best Foreign Film.  Exarchopolous is going to have a tough time squeezing into a very crowded Best Actress field, so anything that puts her on an equal plane with Blanchett is great news.  (Blue, incidentally, isn’t eligible for the Best Foreign Film Oscar due to arcane release-date rules.)  One guess how Best Supporting Actor turned out?  Yep, a tie, again between a frontrunner and an outlier, but even more so:  Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club with James Franco for his flashy gangsta turn in Spring Breakers.  It seems overwhelmingly unlikely that Franco can get any Oscar traction for that part, but who knows.  The LA critics calmed down for Best Director, which went to Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity, Best Supporting Actress to Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years A Slave and Best Screenplay to Before Midnight.  Best Documentary was won by Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, which has been doing very well with awards groups so far, but (for reasons that would require a Spoiler Alert) may have trouble with Academy documentarian traditionalists.

That gave one-time frontrunner 12 Years A Slave only one LA Critics award (Chiwetel Ejiofor was runner-up for Best Actor), confirming that the film which a month ago looked to be the virtually unanimous critical choice is now treading water.  It fared better with the Boston Society of Film Critics… but with a big asterisk.  12 Years took Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, but 5 of the 15 members of the group were unable to attend a last-minute screening of The Wolf of Wall Street–which still came in a close 2d place in all of those categories.  So 12 Years may have had luck and bad scheduling to thank for its wins.  Other awards went to Blanchett for Best Actress, Enough Said‘s James Gandolfini for Best Supporting Actor (Enough Said also took Best Screenplay for Nicole Holofcener), Nebraska‘s June Squibb for Best Supporting Actress, and The Act of Killing for Best Documentary.  A full list of winners is here.

Also, an organization calling itself New York Film Critics Online went in a big way for 12 Years, giving it Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, while Best Director went to Alfonso Cuaron, Best Actress to Cate Blanchett, Best Supporting Actor to Jared Leto, Best Screenplay to Spike Jonze for Her, and Best Documentary to The Act of Killing.  (The full list is here.)  It’s always nice to win something, but these awards are third-tier at best.

So after a week of awards, where are we?  Any hope 12 Years A Slave had of being an overwhelming frontrunner are gone, as Best Picture awards have been spread between it, Her, American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis and Gravity–now 12 Years will have to hope there’s a backlash to the backlash.  Cate Blanchett is firmly in the lead for Best Actress, as is Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor, but Best Actor is all over the place, with wins for Ejiofor, Dern and Robert Redford.  The same is true for Best Supporting Actress, split between Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lawrence, Octavia Spencer and June Squibb.

The week ahead is a big one, but not a dispositive one, as the main events will be the announcements of nominations for the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards.  Since these are lists of nominees and not winners, the main thing will be not to get shut out.




About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."