October 20, 2011

STATUETTE STAKES: I’m First! No, I’M First!

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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For many years, the National Board of Review has been the self-appointed first group on the calendar to announce awards for Best Picture and other categories.  The NBR is sort of like the Golden Globes without super-powers; they’re 110 people tangentially related to the world of film whom you’ve never heard of and whose opinions would mean nothing to you if they told you their choices individually.  Their Best Picture winners have coincided with the Oscars exactly twice in the past decade:  Slumdog Millionaire and No Country For Old Men.  (Other choices have included Good Night and Good Luck, Moulin Rouge and Up In the Air).  But because their’s is the first horse out of the gate, they get a couple of days of national publicity until the next group comes along.

Well, no more.  The NY Film Critics Circle, a somewhat more august group, has decided they want that heady publicity rush, and they’ve announced that they’ll announce their winners on November 28.  (NBR won’t unveil theirs until December 1–at least for now.)  All of this would amount to the most inside of baseball, except that any films wanting to be considered by NYFCC will have to screen for the critics by Thanksgiving weekend–which in practical terms means by November 23, the day before Thanksgiving.  This is a full month or more before such potential contenders as War Horse, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and We Bought A Zoo are scheduled to open, and may require unfinished versions to be submitted for critical review. Since, unlike the NBR members, the Film Critics Circle is made up of people who are actually expected to review these films for the public, that means they could be judging pictures before they’re in their final form.  Also, any films scheduled to open in the succeeding weeks who aren’t blessed with the NYFCC imprimatur, possibly including Carnage, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy and Young Adult, could be tarnished as “losers” before they’ve even been seen by audiences.

What does NYFCC get out of this?  A couple of days in the zeitgeist conversation, before NBR announces their own choices.  Of course, the fun part will come if NBR, which only exists to have that first announcement, moves its own press release back a week.  Would NYFCC pursue?  Could we have Best Picture announcements for Halloween?  Scarrrrrry.

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."