The New York Film Critics Circle has named Netflix/Participant Media’s Roma the best film of the year as well its director Alfonso Cuarón. Voting took place over the course of a near five hour period, outstripping last year’s 3 1/2 hour voting length.
It’s a major breakthrough for the streaming title which is in a limited four-wall theatrical release, and drops on Netflix on Dec. 14. To date, most critics groups have overlooked Roma following its Golden Lion win at the Venice Film Festival. The pic landed in National Board of Reviews top films of the year, but did not land a win in their above the line categories. At the Film Independent Spirit Awards, Roma, which is also Mexico’s Oscar entry, was only eligible and nominated in the best foreign language film category. In total from NYFCC, Roma counts three wins along with Cuarón’s DP work. Roma was produced and financed by Participant Media for a production cost in the teens, and was later shopped around town to specialty distributors. Netflix scooped up the movie for a reported $20M. Roma will be expanding to other locations prior to its streaming date with showtimes in Dolby Atmos.
Keeping in tradition for the most part over the last decade, the NYFCC went indie in regards to its best picture choice. Previous indie best pic winners include last year’s Lady Bird from Greta Gerwig, La La Land (2016), Carol (2015), Boyhood (2014), The Artist (2011), The Hurt Locker (2009) and Milk (2008). When it comes to big studio best picture wins, they’ve all belonged to Sony with American Hustle (2013), Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and Social Network (2010)
A24, like Netflix, also counted three wins, with Paul Schrader’s drama First Reformed scoring best screenplay and actor for Ethan Hawke as well as best first film for Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade.
That movie was the first trophy to be announced today 90 minutes into deliberation: In its long wake after premiering at Sundance back in January, Burnham’s middle school opus has already won him the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director award at the Gothams as well as Breakthrough Actor for Elsie Fisher. Eighth Grade was also named Best Directorial Debut at the National Board of Review earlier this week plus the film has four Independent Spirit nominations for Best Feature, Best Female Lead (Fisher), Best Screenplay (Burnham) and Supporting Male Actor (Josh Hamilton).
Regina Hall is nominated for lead actress role in Support the Girls at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and was nominated at the Gothams, but she’s a winner here for the Magnolia release at NYFCC.
Meanwhile, Regina King is walking away with another best supporting actress win after her National Board of Review win for If Beale Street Could Talk. She’s also nominated for a best supporting actress at Spirits.
NYFCC followed the Gotham Awards in recognizing Richard E. Grant for his turn in Fox Searchlight’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?; having previously won best actor at that kudos ceremony. He’s also up for a supporting male nom at the Spirits.
NYFCC agreed with NBR from their choice earlier this week and named Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War as best foreign film. Pawlikowski won best director at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year for the Amazon release.
Though the organization’s bellwether rate for determining Oscar’s best picture is reportedly over 40%, the last time both AMPAS and NYFCC matched was in the 2011-12 season when they both gave the top prize to Michel Hazanavicius’ Hollywood silent film ode The Artist. Last year NYFCC lauded Lady Bird as best picture which went to score five Oscar nominations, but no wins. While it’s common for many NYFCC winners to continue on as potential Oscar nominees, last year the only category where the group saw eye-to-eye with AMPAS as far as wins go was Disney’s Coco for Best Animated Film. Three years ago, the NYFCC predicted a surprise that no one expected at the Oscars: Mark Rylance taking best supporting actor for Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies.
Here’s this year’s NYFCC wins:
Best Film: Roma (Netflix)
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma (Netflix)
Best First Film: Eighth Grade, dir. Bo Burnham (A24)
Best Actor: Ethan Hawke for First Reformed (A24)
Best Actress: Best Actress, Regina Hall, Support the Girls (Magnolia Pictures)
Best Supporting Actor: Richard E. Grant for Fox Searchlight’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight)
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna)
Best Screenplay: First Reformed (Paul Schrader) (A24)
Best Cinematography: Roma, Alfonso Cuaron (Netflix)
Best Foreign Language Film: Cold War (dir. Pawel Pawlikowski) (Amazon)
Best Documentary: Minding the Gap (dir. Bing Liu)
Best Animated Film: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (dirs. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman)
Special Awards: David Schwartz, Chief Film Curator at Museum of the Moving Image (who will be stepping down after 33 years) and Kino Classics Box Set “Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers.