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National Society of Film Critics Awards 2008

Here are the results of today’s vote by the ancient and venerable critics group, of which yours truly is an ancient if not strictly venerable member, along with some 60 awesomely powerful critics from various national and local, largely mainstream publications. The * designates the winning entity, with the number of votes and the distributor following the title:

*1. Sean Penn (Milk) – 87 (Focus Features)
2. Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)- 40
3. Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)– 38

*1. Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) – 65 (Miramax)
2. Melissa Leo (Frozen River) – 33
3. Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy) – 31

*1. Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky) 41 (Miramax)
2. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) – 35
3. Josh Brolin (Milk) – 29

*1. Hanna Schygulla (The Edge of Heaven) – 29 (Strand Releasing)
2. Viola Davis (Doubt) – 29 (on fewer ballots)
3. Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) – 24

*1. Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman) – 26 (Sony Pictures Classics)
2. Happy-Go-Lucky 20
2. WALL-E (20)

*1. Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky) – 36 (Miramax)
2. Gus Van Sant (Milk, Paranoid Park) – 20
3. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) -16

*1. Man on Wire (James Marsh) – 55 (Magnolia)
2. Trouble the Water (Tia Lessin and Carl C. Deal) – 34
3. Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog) – 26

*1. Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh) – 29
2. A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin) – 24
3. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman) – 17

*1. Slumdog Millionaire (Anthony Dod Mantle) – 29 (Fox Searchlight)
2. Flight of the Red Balloon (Lee Ping-Bing) – 22
3. The Dark Knight (Wally Pfister) – 18
4. Still Life (Yu Lik-Wai )

BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM – Ken Jacobs’ Razzle Dazzle.

The Criterion Collection for finally making Samuel Fuller’s suppressed “White Dog” (1982) available to a wide American audience via DVD release.
“The Exiles,” Kent Mackenzie’s realistic 1961 independent film about Native Americans in Los Angeles. (Restored by Ross Lipman of the UCLA Television and Film Archives and distributed by Milestone.)
Flicker Alley for releasing DVD collections of rare early U.S. and foreign silent films.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment for its DVD set “Murnau, Borzage and Fox.”

24 comments to National Society of Film Critics Awards 2008

  • Jaime

    *1. Waltz with Bashir

    Did NOT see that coming, at all. Good job with element of surprise NSFC dudes.

  • Scott

    Dave Kehr: LOL, judging from your top ten list in the previous thread, you weren’t able to sway some of your “awesomely powerful” colleagues. I suppose it would be asking too much for you to share your personal ballot, but are you happy with any of these winners (aside from the Fox DVD set)?

    I know the purpose of these awards (particularly with bodies like the NSFC) is to spread the wealth and recognize worthy stuff that has been largely unrepresented by other organizations. But I have to say, I’m thrilled that Sally Hawkins has dominated the kudos circut thus far. I have a friend who HATED “Happy-Go-Lucky” and the character of Poppy, and he jokes that every time Sally Hawkins wins another prize, he dies a little inside. I hope she wins the Oscar!

  • James L. Neibaur

    Pleased to see the Film Heritage award for Flicker Alley.

  • nicolas saada

    How could I have forgotten that gem of a film, WALTZ WITH BASHIR in my other “ten best” list ? I mean Dave, these lists are kind of tricky, aren’t they. You focus on what you don’t want to put aside and miss the essential or the fundamentals. Same can be said for these SIGHT AND SOUND lists… Tricky.

  • Alex Hicks

    o On Dave K’s other 01-04 contribution on lists and awards, his Oscar article in the NYT, here’ a footnote. Social and Literary Seriousness (social problem films and literary adaptations including theatrical ones) do indeed explain a multitude of of Oscar winner. However, if one extends attention to nominees as well, a second major Social Seriousness source of Academy attention becomes evident for the Depression and War years, the film of historical figures (somewhat overlapping with the literary adaptationa and spectacle). Cases in point: 1930,Disraeli; 1933,The Private Life of Henry VIII;1934,The Barretts of Wimpole Street,Cleopatra, The House of Rothschild, Viva Villa; 1936, The Story of Louis Pasteur; 1937, The Life of Emile Zola; 1943,Madame Curie; 1944, Wilson. Of course the genre wiuld endure as recipient of arguably disproportionate respect with Patton, Nicholas and Alexandra, Gandhi, and the like.

  • David Boxwell

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the Schygulla award, even if it was really a lead in the second half.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Nine of the last 12 lead acting Oscar winners have gone to people playing non-fiction characters.

  • Good point Tom. Maybe that’s why I loved Mickey Rourke so much. Tho I thought Penn spectacular.

  • Bill Sorochan

    Pleasantly shocked that as obscure (relatively)and challenging a film as “Waltz with Bashir” is still able to be rewarded as Best Picture. Would be curious to find out when the balloting occurred and if the tragic events unfolding now had any relationship to the voting.

    I find it interesting that one can argue that both “Waltz with Bashir” and “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” could be classified as “film noir” and both were multiple international award winners. Nice to know that the noir genre continues to evolve and expand and (thankfully) be recognized and supported by both audiences and critics.

    Here’s hoping that one of the great films of the past 5 years from that region, Tawfik Abu Wael’s “Atash” (Thirst) gets some recognition soon as well.

  • Jaime Wolf

    No Best Supporting recognition for Dermot Mulroney in BURN AFTER READING, or for Meryl Streep in HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29?

  • Alex Hicks

    From the overlooked films of 2008 to a forgotten film of yesteryear (and from good films about projectionists to a premier film about the fisrt projectionists):

    John Boulting’s star-studded 1951 “The Magic Box” today on TCM at 2:00PM EST.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Also the very fine Seven Days to Noon, 8:30 PT tonight (that’s 11:30 in NY for the time-zone challenged).

    TCM is doing a nice job of adding a variety of well-known and unknown British films recently – Brighton Rock, The Amazing Mr. Williams this week. Also, the previously promised Borzage No Greater Glory finally shows up next Monday.

  • alex hicks

    Yes, tanks, “Brighton Rock,” a very effective adaptation of what may be either the most substantial of GrahamGreene’s “entertainments” or the most entertaining of his “serious nopvels,” on TCM Jan 06, 08:00PM — not to speak of “Glory” from Borzage and at least one more “Amazing’ film.

  • Scott

    Tom & Alex: Thanks for the “Brighton Rock” heads-up. (I really ought to keep up on my TCM.) I’ve always wanted to see that film, as I think the novel is conceivably one of Greene’s two or three best, period. As Mr. Hicks points out, it was described as “an entertainment by Graham Greene”, as opposed to “a novel”, in its first printings. It’s a swift, nasty piece of work, but all of Greene’s preoccupations are there, when you think about it, and I actually prefer it to most of his more famous, serious books (many of which I find overly dour and glutinous).

  • alex hicks

    Scott, For what it’s worth, Harold Bloom in his recent “Novelists and Novels” — after some very nasty and highly unfavorable comparisons to Henry James and the judgment that Greene’s “entertainments” are his best books– indicates that “Brighton Rock” is the Greene he most likes. Though Bloom’s suggestion that Greene is closer to the boy’s adventure authors (Haggard, Buchan, etc.) than Dickens, Elliot, Conrad, and Company is cuttingly done, I’ve come around to a moderated acceptance of the general thrust of Bloom’s analysis. Still pretty high on say “End of the Affair” (whichj was good enough for faulkner’s enthisiastic praise) but inclined to view “Ministry of Fear” as kind of proto-“Gravity’s Rainbow.”

  • ich sekunden david b.’s gratitude for hanna schygulla’s recognition. i adored mr. akin’s head-on (as well as the luminous ms. schygulla’s under-discussed appearance in werckmeister harmonies), and can’t wait to see the film and her performance therein.
    as to the bucking of consensus bandwagoneering, i have to say, as much as i adore sally h. in happy-go-lucky i feel it’s the most underwhelming work my mr. leigh since career girls. remove the force of nature that is ms. hawkins from the film, and what do you have? a handful of limited sketches that barely flesh out the supporting characters’ own lives apart from their relationship to poppy, up to and including alexis zegerman’s occasionally celebrated work in the film, where i felt a.z.’s zoe got incredibly short shrift over the course of the narrative. it’s ok, of course, but i don’t think we’ll be talking about happy with the same reverence reserved for naked, secrets & lies, topsy-turvy, vera drake, or even life is sweet. having said that ….how do you spell “en-ra-ha”, anyway?

  • jbryant

    Speaking of TCM, Sirk’s A Scandal in Paris follows Seven Days to Noon tonight, and Vidor’s The Crowd airs tonight/early tomorrow (3:00 am PST, 6:00 am EST).

    And as mentioned in an earlier thread, Quine’s My Sister Eileen airs Wednesday night. Other Quine titles repeating this month include Operation Mad Ball, Bell Book and Candle, It Happened to Jane and How to Murder Your Wife, all part of a Jack Lemmon night on the 21st.

    I regret to say I’ve seen only 3 of the films mentioned in the NSFC balloting (Gran Torino, The Dark Knight, Wall-E). I despair of catching up any time soon.

  • Shawn Stone

    Hey James, I remember your pan of Career Girls in print. I thought the movie captured a certain mood of bitterness well, though I haven’t seen it since that first run in theaters.

    I remain mystified by the enthusiasm for Danny Boyle. And look forward to some of these films finally making their way to the hinterlands of upstate New York. Waltz With Bashir arrives next month. . . .

  • Scott

    Alex Hicks: Thanks, I wasn’t familiar with that piece of Bloom info. Like you, I’m inclined to tentatively agree with his assessment. “The End of the Affair” is a very fine novel (Neil Jordan’s 1999 film isn’t bad, either), as is Greene’s “The Power and the Glory”, a haunting, deeply symbolic work. But I didn’t care for “The Quiet American” and actively detested his celebrated “The Heart of the Matter” (a piece of middle-aged solipsism dressed up as spiritual crisis — blech). I find he covers much of his trademark territory in his “entertainments” just as well, without all the extra fuss. The Henry James comparison is interesting. I know Greene venerated James, a writer whose serious work and genre efforts are pretty much held in the same high regard nowadays.

    James & Shawn: I actually really dug “Career Girls”, and feel it’s one of Leigh’s most underrated films. It’s slight and low-key, but I remember thinking it was a very thoughtful depiction of the way shaking off one’s youthful, twitchy, unformed affectations can bring bewilderment and resignation, as opposed to wisdom or maturity.

    “Happy-Go-Lucky” is an interesting point of comparison. Though its detractors have complained that its actually too schematic and contrived, it ostensibly has a pretty loose, undramatic structure. I found it very questing and philosophical; a film that suggests that unmitigated cheerfulness can be both heroic and dogmatic. Poppy might be one of Leigh’s most dynamic creations, and the performance of Miss Hawkins is really a tour-de-force (amazing, considering how reactive it is).

  • Scott

    Yikes, let me report myself to the grammar police. In the second sentence of the third paragraph above, the second “its” should be “it’s”. Apologies for any other mistakes I might’ve missed. LOL, who else wishes for an “Edit Post” option?

  • shawn! fancy meeting you here. though lynda steadman’s performance is lovely, i do feel career girls plays at a largely superficial level, esp. coming after secrets. admittedly, leigh’s average trumps many career-bests.

    i’m very partial to leigh’s pre-high hopes bbc work (of which i believe, as metroland’s mr. stone might attest, albany’s video central had a pretty wide collection). hard labour‘s early exploration of vera drake territory is also distinguished by a great, unpretentious, early performance by ben kingsley. i’d love to see all those earlier works collected, re-mastered, discussed more.

  • Shawn Stone

    James, Yes, on Video Central, long gone. And the Albany Public Library had some interesting stuff, including 3 or 4 Chantal Akerman films on VHS. (I watched Rendez-vous d’Anna multiple times.) Later I found out their VHS tapes either went in a bargain sale or were tossed.

  • Kifah Foutah

    I’m so happy to see Hanna Schygulla get recognized.

  • Glad to see “The Exiles” getting a little more noticed, thought this was one of the year’s more amazing rediscoveries and didn’t receive nearly the attention it deserved