The 2011-2012 film awards season has officially kicked off with a couple of awards presentations and the ever-continuing announcements of nominations. Check out what went on this past week and see what films and actors are building buzz!
In a surprising decision at the Gotham Independent Film Awards last Sunday at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, two films were awarded the top title of Best Feature. Mike Mills‘ romantic dramedy Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, and Terrence Malick‘s avant-garde piece The Tree of Life shared the highest honor at the first film awards ceremony of the season. Juror Natalie Portman explained in a taped message that the juries agreed to award both films because “they could not choose between the two dramatically different films without feeling as if they were shortchanging one of them.” The tie was the first in the Gothams’ 21-year history.
The award for Best Documentary feature went to Better This World, about two friends accused of domestic terrorism and their relationship with a radical activist mentor. Scenes of a Crime won the award for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” and Girlfriend, a film about a young man with Down syndrome and his crush on a small-town single mother, won the Audience Award.
The honor for Breakthrough Director went to Dee Rees for her work on Pariah, a remake of her own short film about a Brooklyn teenager juggling multiple identities. Felicity Jones received the award for Breakthrough Actor for her role in Like Crazy and the cast of Beginners received Best Ensemble Performance.
This year’s Gothams also paid special tributes to Charlize Theron, Gary Oldman, David Cronenberg, and film executive Tom Rothman. The ceremony was hosted by Edie Falco and Oliver Platt.
The recipients of the Gothams are selected by a distinguished jury and are presented by the Independent Feature Project.
The black-and-white silent film is back and critics love it! On Tuesday, the New York Film Critics Circle announced their winners and chose The Artist as the Best Film of 2011. Starring modern-day actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, The Artist is a lovely throwback of classic film and takes place in 1920’s Hollywood as silent film made its way out in the real world. This critical victory from the New York Film Critics Circle solidifies the motion picture’s status as a bold awards season favorite. The director of the film Michel Hazanavicius was also awarded Best Director by the critics.
Meryl Streep won her fifth Best Actress award from the critics group for her role as Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming The Iron Lady. Best Actor went to Brad Pitt for his roles in Moneyball and The Tree of Life. Moneyball received more recognition as Best Screenplay, penned by Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. The Tree of Life gained a second point in the form of Jessica Chastain, the critics’ pick for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film as well as in The Help and Take Shelter. Albert Brooks was named Best Supporting Actor as the villain in Drive.
Werner Herzog‘s Cave of Forgotten Dreams was named Best Nonfiction Film while A Separation, an Iranian film about a couple debating to leave their home country, won Best Foreign Language Film. Best Cinematography accolades went to Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life and J.C. Chandor‘s debut Margin Call won Best First Feature.
A posthumous honor was also announced for Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz, who passed away in August at age 70.
The New York Film Critics Circle is a group of 33, made up of critics from daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, and websites. Over the years, their Best Picture selections have differed from the films that have won Oscars. Last year, the critics circle chose The Social Network as Best Film while the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences went on to honor The King’s Speech.
The awards will be presented in a formal ceremony in Manhattan on Jan. 9.
The Artist gains more ground by topping the list of nominees for the Film Independent Spirit Awards. The film earned a total of five nominations and tied with Take Shelter for the most nods in this year’s field. The two will compete against each other for Best Feature along with The Descendants, Drive, 50/50, and Beginners. Furthermore, the films’ directors Michel Hazanavicius and Jeff Nichols will also find themselves battling out in the Best Director category.
The acting categories are populated with performances from much of these films. Jean Dujardin and Michael Shannon are up for Best Actor for The Artist and Take Shelter, respectively, along with Ryan Gosling for Drive. Albert Brooks (Drive) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners) are nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter), Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), and Anjelica Huston (50/50) are up for Best Supporting Actress.
The Best Actress category, on the other hand, is full of new faces and films: Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene; Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn; Lauren Ambrose for Think of Me; Rachael Harris for Natural Selection; and Adepero Oduye for Pariah. Demian Bichir (A Better Life) and Woody Harrelson (Rampart) complete the Best Actor field. Other Best Supporting Actor nominees include Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris), John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids), and John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene) and for Best Supporting Actress, Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) and Harmony Santana (Gun Hill Road) fill in the remaining blanks.
The Robert Altman Award, which recognizes one film’s director, casting director, and ensemble, will be given to Margin Call.
Presented by the Los Angeles-based non-profit Film Independent, the Spirit Awards honors artist-driven filmmaking and is the premier independent film awards ceremony. Winners will be announced at the 27th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards on Feb. 25, just before the Academy Awards. Check them out at SpiritAwards.com for a complete list of categories and nominees.