Nope. The Academy Awards are basically the last group to have their say about which films are the year’s most esteemed, and their picks don’t necessarily (or even often) reflect the feelings of the critical community, which is why you’ll see a lot more of The Tree Of Life, A Separation, and especially Melancholia below than you’ll see of them on the Oscars telecast.
Here are the National Society Of Film Critics winners, along with the number of votes each film received:
*1. Melancholia – 29 votes (Lars von Trier)
2. The Tree Of Life – 28 (Terrence Malick)
3. A Separation – 20 (Asghar Farhadi)
*1. Terrence Malick – 31 votes (The Tree Of Life)
2. Martin Scorsese – 29 (Hugo)
3. Lars von Trier – 23 (Melancholia)
*1. Brad Pitt – 35 votes (Moneyball, The Tree Of Life)
2. Gary Oldman – 22 (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
3. Jean Dujardin – 19 (The Artist)
*1. Kirsten Dunst – 39 votes (Melancholia)
2. Yun Jung-hee – 25 (Poetry)
3. Meryl Streep – 20 (The Iron Lady)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
*1. Albert Brooks – 38 votes (Drive)
2. Christopher Plummer – 24 (Beginners)
3. Patton Oswalt – 19 (Young Adult)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
*1. Jessica Chastain – 30 votes (The Tree Of Life, Take Shelter, The Help)
2. Jeannie Berlin – 19 (Margaret)
3. Shailene Woodley – 17 (The Descendants)
BEST NONFICTION FILM
*1. Cave Of Forgotten Dreams – 35 votes (Werner Herzog)
2. The Interrupters – 26 (Steve James)
3. Into The Abyss – 18 (Werner Herzog)
*1. A Separation – 39 votes (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Moneyball – 22 (Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin)
3. Midnight In Paris – 16 (Woody Allen)
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
*1. A Separation – 67 votes (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Mysteries Of Lisbon – 28 (Raoul Ruiz)
3. Le Havre – 22 (Aki Kaurismäki)
*1. The Tree Of Life – 76 votes (Emanuel Lubezki)
2. Melancholia – 41 (Manuel Alberto Claro)
3. Hugo – 33 (Robert Richardson)
And again I find myself utterly unmoved by another organization’s top choices, besides the Best Supporting Actor & Actress, both of which I’m fond of. (I have not seen A Separation, though. So no comment on that.)
Last year, the National Society Of Film Critics picked The Social Network for the majority of its top awards, which I can get behind. Not so much this year. For the record, I’m not merely grumpy that a group doesn’t pick my exact favorites in the same order in which I like them. I’m perfectly happy with awards going to a number of films that aren’t necessarily in my Top 10 films of the year, or even my Top 20.
I enjoyed The Tree Of Life and can understand how it might have moved other people a little more than it moved me; a few detractions just got in the way of me feeling like it all came together cohesively. And I admire the artfulness of Melancholia overall, even if it did contain some rather flat moments. I liked Kirsten Dunst in it, too, but she was far from my favorite female performer of the year. The commonality between both of these films? Well, they’re both quite ambitious in scope, and they both hit you over the head with the point they’re making (one more gracefully than the other). Both have moments of extreme visual beauty (justifying their cinematography triumphs), which I suppose is how they got here. But neither is very subtle. At all.
However, I can’t for the life of me understand how so many people could find Brad Pitt in Moneyball so riveting, though. Better than Jean Dujardin? Better than Michael Fassbender? He was fine, but I didn’t see much in the performance (or the movie) to really flip for.
I’m also preemptively getting annoyed at the Best Actress race, for reasons I’m sure I’ll go into later.
Harrumph. Maybe I am just grumpy.