The New York Film Critics Circle bestowed their best of 2020 honors today and the group provided a significant boost to Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow. The 19th century set drama took Best Film. Cow‘s chances at Oscar attention has seemed iffy so far this year. In fact, I have yet to have it listed in my predicted nominees for the Academy’s highest prize.
That might not change, but it does have recent history on its side. Only one of the Best Film honorees from the previous decade (2015’s Carol) failed to nab a Picture nod at the Oscars. On the other hand, only one of the New York Circle winners from the past ten years went on to win (2011’s The Artist).
It was also a good day for Never Rarely Sometimes Always as Eliza Hittman’s feature won Best Screenplay and Sidney Flanagan took Best Actress. Flanagan’s inclusion in Best Actress with the Academy looks questionable in that crowded field, but this first critics win certainly gives her exposure.
Best Director went to Chloe Zhao for Nomadland. She seems to be a shoo-in at the Oscars and will likely compete for the victory with David Fincher (Mank).
In other acting derbies, it was Delroy Lindo taking Best Actor for Da 5 Bloods and Chadwick Boseman in Supporting Actor for his role in Spike Lee’s picture. As for the what the Academy will do, it’s more feasible that Boseman could win against Lindo for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Supporting Actress went the funny route with Maria Bakalova’s breakout role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The NYFCC has shown a willingness to honor comedic performers in this race as recent as three years ago with Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip. It’s worthy of mention that Haddish did not end up on Oscar’s radar and Bakalova’s inclusion is up in the air as well.
The group’s Documentary award went to Time (a strong contender for the Academy) while Brazil’s Bacarau took the Foreign Language Prize. The latter is not its country’s submitted movie for Oscar consideration.
Bottom line: it’s a good day for First Cow, though it remains to be seen whether it can milk its buzz through nomination morning next year.