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Los Angeles and New York Film Critics Awards Shape Oscar Race

With the announcement over the past two days of the winners of the Los Angeles and New York Film Critics Associations, the leading contenders for the Oscar have finally crystallized. Prize winners from the two most prestigious film critics societies in the United States have definitely turned both films and talents into the frontrunners… other words, the ones to beat come Oscar night.

The first to announce, on Sunday afternoon, was the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA). Its choice for the Best Picture prize was THERE WILL BE BLOOD, which also won honors for its director Paul Thomas Anderson, its lead actor Daniel Day Lewis and its veteran production designer Jack Fisk. By contrast, the New York Film Critics Circle gave the nod to NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN as Best Picture, which also was acknowledged for Best Director (Joel and Ethan Coen), BestScreenplay (the Coens) and a Best Supporting Actor nod for Javier Bardem.

The New York critics concurred with their Los Angeles bretheren to award Daniel Day Lewis the Best Actor nod for his performance in THERE WILL BE BLOOD. If he goes on to win the Award, it will be the actor’s second Oscar win (his first for the UK film MY LEFT FOOT). Critics on both coasts differed in their choices for other acting prizes. New York scribes voted for Julie Christie as Best Actress for her devastating performance as a woman who loses her memory in the drama AWAY FROM HER. Los Angeles critics gave the nod to French actress Marion Cotillard for her spot-on impersonation of the French singer Edith Piaf in LA VIE EN ROSE. Both actresses should be shopping for Oscar gowns for the big night in February.

Another consensus in the acting race was the Best Supporting Actress prize for newcomer Amy Ryan, for her performance in the Ben Affleck-directed drama GONE BABY GONE. New York and LA critics differed on their choice for Best Supporting Actor, with the New Yorkers going for Vlad Ivanov, the sadistic abortionist in the Romanian film 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, and Los Angelenos voting for Spanish actor Javier Bardem’s twisted turn as a sadistic bounty hunter in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, which just recently won the European Film Award as Best European Film of the Year, was the choice of Los Angeles critics as Best Foreign Language Film. In New York, the surprise winner was THE LIVES OF OTHERS, the German language film that won the Oscar last year but played in theaters for much of the past year. Shut out from both critics circles was THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY by painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel (although the film and director were named as first runner ups for the prize, and the cinematographer Janusz Kaminski was awarded by the Los Angeles film critics).

The announcements most have been disappointing for such films as MICHAEL CLAYTON, ATONEMENT, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, INTO THE WILD, SWEENEY TODD, I’M NOT THERE and THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES, all of which were top contenders for the Best Picture prize (and could still appear on year-end lists and as Oscar nominees). Now that film critics in New York and Los Angeles have revealed their picks, the landscape of the Oscar race is finally coming into focus…..although major surprises and omissions can be expected for what already has been an unpredictable film season. Stay tuned to this website for updates throughout the awards race.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor on


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