The New York Film Critics Circle (un)officially kicked off awards season today with the announcement of their crop of winners. The group split the Picture and Directing categories, going with Lady Bird for the former and The Florida Project‘s Sean Baker for the latter. Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet continued their success at the Gotham awards earlier this week by picking up prizes for Actor and Actress here, while Willem Dafoe staked his case to potentially steamroll Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons’ style.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Tiffany Haddish being named Best Supporting Actress for her incredible work in Girls Trip. Not even Bridesmaids‘ Melissa McCarthy, who went on to be Oscar nominated, could boast this feat (although she did get a win from the Boston Society of Film Critics). Haddish is a star on the rise and campaigning should come easy to her. This is a nice head start in a category that’s pretty fluid outside of Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney, but Universal is going to have to step it up if she’s going to have a real shot. As of right now, they don’t even have any FYC’s for the film on their official website.
See the full list of winners below.
Best Film: Lady Bird
Best Director: Sean Baker, The Florida Project
Baker was previously sitting on the outside looking in on the Oscar final five, and while I still think it’s too soon to tell if he can get that nomination, a win here definitely puts a nice spotlight on Baker and the film at large.
Best Actor: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Chalamet has quickly risen to the top of the pack along with Gary Oldman of Darkest Hour. Between Call Me By Your Name‘s box office success, his work in Lady Bird and his effective campaigning, a nomination for Chalamet is all but assured at this point. Fun fact, he’s the youngest actor to ever win this award!
Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Not really shocking when you remember she won for Brooklyn back in 2015. I suppose they could have gone for Frances McDormand in Three Billboards, but Lady Bird is much more within their wheelhouse. She’s built an incredible amount of momentum within the past month. Could she finally go the distance?
Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Really thought it was going to be either Armie Hammer or Michael Stuhlberg from Call Me By Your Name… I had this race pegged between Dafoe and Three Billboard‘s Sam Rockwell, but a notice here puts Dafoe out in front, if only by a little. He also won with the National Board of Review the other day, and with Supporting Actor so weak this year, Dafoe staking his claim to the trophy now helps cement a narrative. If he keeps this momentum going until the very end, watch out.
Best Supporting Actress: Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
WOAAAAHHHHH!! Now this is a hugely pleasant surprise, one that I don’t think anyone saw coming. But this is a nice feather in what would have otherwise been an uphill battle. In 2011, Melissa McCarthy had a similar campaign built around her comedic bravado in Bridesmaids that netted her an Oscar nomination. Haddish is easily one of 2017’s breakout stars, and is insanely charming. Campaigning won’t be an issue on her part. The only question now is if Universal will give her the push she needs to break into a fluid category. Fun fact: the last acting winner giving a comedic performance was Joan Cusack in 1997 for In & Out.
Best Animated Film: COCO (dir. Lee Unkrich and Alfred Molina)
Best Nonfiction Film: Faces Places (Agnes Varda)
Best Foreign Language Film: BPM (Beats Per Minute), dir. Rob Campillo
Best Cinematography: Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
Interesting note here: If Rachel Morrison went on to make the Oscar five, she would be the first female cinematographer ever to be nominated. This recognition here also adds some legitimacy to Netflix’s Oscar campaign for Mudbound. I’m still unsure if the Academy will come out for the film in a huge way due to the streaming “issue,” but this definitely helps.
Best Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Best First Film: Get Out, dir. Jordan Peele