New York Critics Name “La La Land” Best Pic, Spread the Wealth Between”Moonlight” and “Manchester By The Sea”

The New York Film Critics announced their slate of winners today, the first of the critics groups and organizations that announce awards ahead of groups like the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. And while they don’t hold the influence guilds like SAG do (seeing as they are members of the Academy and not just critics), they can be important to many Oscar hopefuls in jump starting a campaign or adding fuel to one’s tank.

The big story here is that Manchester By The Sea and Moonlight went head to head with one another, each earning three awards while the group went and named La La Land as the year’s Best Film. As three of the highest rated films of the year, that’s not exactly a surprise; it may just come down to these three films when all is said and done.

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National Board of Review Names “Manchester By The Sea” Best Film, Barry Jenkins Best Director

After winning big at last night’s Gotham Awards, Moonlight picked up two more wins with the National Board of Review for director Barry Jenkins and Naomie Harris’ supporting performance.

The big winner here was Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea, which won big in the Best Film, Actor, Original Screenplay and Breakthrough Performance (Male) categories. Other winners include Jeff Bridges from Hell or High Water in Supporting Actor (which remains an extremely wide-open race) and Amy Adams for her outstanding performance in Arrival. With the Actress race so extremely competitive, any sort of precursor award helps those contenders who are on the bubble for those fourth and fifth slots (Adams, Ruth Negga, Isabelle Huppert, Taraji P. Henson and Meryl Streep).

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Hidden Figures, which opens in limited release Christmas Day, grabbed the Best Ensemble Award, Kubo and the Two Strings won in Animated Feature and the largely unseen Silence won an Adapted Screenplay award.

The NBR is known for their sometimes out of left field choices; they’re famous for choosing to vote for what they like rather than consensus favorites. And while many of the films/performances they choose to honor do go on to at the very least be nominated for the Oscars, they don’t have the accuracy in being “predictive” that other non-industry groups like the Broadcast Film Critics do. So take these wins with a grain of salt as we start reading the tea leaves and hearing from more groups this weekend.

Read the full list of winners below.

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“Moonlight” leads Independent Spirit Award Nominations

Moonlight and American Honey were the leaders of the Independent Spirit Award nominations with a total of 6 nods each. Manchester By The Sea trailed behind with 5 while Jackie raked in 4.

Moonlight missed out in categories such as Best Supporting Male (Mahershala Ali, Andre Holland, or any of the actors who played Chiron) and Best Supporting Female (Naomie Harris and Janelle Monáe). The entire cast, however, is being recognized with the Robert Altman Award, which will also honor director/writer Barry Jenkins. The cast’s inclusion in this award bars them from being nominated in the separate acting categories.

Best Actress features four of the five presumed frontrunners for the Oscars, with only Emma Stone being absent (La La Land is probably not eligible here). This is probably Natalie Portman’s to lose, while Huppert has a nice boost to land her first ever career nomination.

Best Actor, on the other hand, features only one of the frontrunners; Casey Affleck will most likely be taking this one. Machester‘s Lucas Hedges and Other People‘s Molly Shannon got a nice boost to their campaigns with notices in the Supporting categories.

Take a look at the full list of nominations below.

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Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” Screens At Telluride, Enters the Oscar Race

I’ve been thinking about Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight from the moment its gorgeous trailer premiered over the summer. I hadn’t heard anything about it before that, but the buzz around the film became inescapable after. Film critics and various writers were all enamored like I was, while the lucky few who had seen the film in some capacity all had the same message: This was a film to watch out for, and see at any cost.

Suddenly it was announced that Moonlight would be screening at the Telluride Film Festival, with screenings at the prestigious Toronto and New York Film Festivals to follow. It’s clear that following the success of Room and Ex Machina last year, the film’s distributor A24 was not messing around with this one and if the word of mouth out of Telluride is any indicator of what’s to come, Moonlight is in it for the long haul.

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