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National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Predictions 2021

by Stewart Cole

No more pencils, no more books; it’s time for the dirty looks of the critics’ awards.

The first of the two most vital forerunners of the awards season will be awarded – the National Board of Review on Thursday and then the New York Film Critics on Friday.

After a pandemic year with vague protagonists and different eligibility schedules, the two teams, with the exception of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which will announce it on December 12, are coming a year where their top films have managed to collect almost none. Love Oscars – “Da 5 Bloods” (NBR), “First Cow” (NYFCC) and “Small Ax” (LAFCA). In the case of the last two, it was the first time in their history that their selection for the best film failed to win a single Oscar.

So what will be their favorite this year?

The NYFCC loves deep and rich narratives (that is, Todd Haynes’s “Carol”) and seldom falls for the Academy’s supposed protagonist, appearing to fit them once in the last decade (Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist”). This is a good omen for two Netflix movies, Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter”.

The group has also been influenced by its most recent screenings, as evidenced by the 2013 selection of “American Hustle” by David O. Russell, which they saw the day before the vote. This could be useful for Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley”, both before the deadline.

The first few days of precursors can be misleading. For example, before “The Shape of Water” won the best film, it was absent from the NBR Top Ten list and was dropped by many groups, leaving many to believe that it was a DOA for the Academy. Scientists may also be deceived into believing that actors like Regina Hall (“Support the Girls”) and Rachel Weisz (“The Deep Blue Sea”) are in the race before being ignored anywhere else. I suspect that the supposed Oscar-winning protagonist of “Belfast” by Kenneth Branagh will be absent from both bodies this week, which will surely spark some debate with some titles asking: “Is he dead?” Spoiler warning, it is not.

Some fights crave clarity, such as the second actor, who still lacks an agreed-upon protagonist, although Belfast’s men, Jamie Dornan and Siaran Hinds, could easily fill the space. The second female role is the most competitive acting contest, bringing 20 women to the table, but this could be a moment for Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”) or Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) to claim their positions. It will be interesting to see if one of the groups will charm Rita Moreno from “West Side Story”.

The National Board of Review has usually fallen hard on Warner Bros. and Clint Eastwood films (do not think they will go for “Cry Macho”, but it does not rule out appearing in the top 10). This could be a powerful launch for Denis Villeneuve as “Dune” continues to build momentum in recent weeks. Starring categories, filled with movie stars like Andrew Garfield from “Tick, Tick… ​​Boom!” and Kristen Stewart from “Spencer” are hoping for strong starts, not only for campaign reasons but also for Oscar ratings.

Lady Gaga’s work on “House of Gucci” is very much on the table – since the NBR rewarded her for “A Star is Born”, they should have no hesitation in revisiting the well.

Below are the predictions for the two critical teams in all their categories:

National Review Board:

Best Movie: «The Power of the Dog» (Netflix)
Alternative: “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)

Director: Denis Villeneuve, «Dune» (Warner Bros)
Substitute: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)

Actor: Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick And Boom!” (Netflix)
Alternate: Peter Dinklage, “Cyrano” (MGM / United Artists Releasing)

Actor: Lady Gaga, «House of Gucci» (MGM / United Artists Releasing)
Substitute: Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)

Auxiliary actor: Troy Kotsur, «CODA» (Apple Original Films)
Alternate: JK Simmons, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon)

Second Female Role: Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard” (Warner Bros.)
Substitute: Ann Dowd, “Mass” (Bleecker Street)

Original script: Licorice Pizza (MGM / United Artists Releasing) – Paul Thomas Anderson
Alternate: “C’mon C’mon” (A24) – Mike Mills

Custom script: “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) – Jane Campion
Alternative: “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (Apple Original Films / A24) – Joel Coen

Animation: «The Mitchells vs. the Machines »(Netflix)
Alternative: “Luca” (Pixar)

Innovative performance: Rachel Zegler, «West Side Story» (20th Century Studios)
Substitute: Alana Haim, “Licorice Pizza” (MGM / United Artists Releasing)

Best directorial debut: Maggie Gyllenhaal, «The Lost Daughter» (Netflix)
Substitute: Jeymes Samuel, “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)

Best Foreign Language Film: “Flee” (Denmark)
Alternative: “Drive My Car” (Japan)

Best Documentary: «The Rescue» (National Geographic)
Alternative: “The First Wave” (Neon)

Best Total: The Harder They Fall (Netflix)
Alternative: “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)

NBR Freedom of expression: “Passing” (Netflix)
Alternative: “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)

The 10 best movies (in alphabetical order):

  • «Cruella» (Walt Disney Pictures)
  • Dune (Warner Bros.)
  • The Harder They Fall (Netflix)
  • «The Last Duel» (20th Century Studios)
  • “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
  • «King Richard» (Warner Bros)
  • “Stillwater” (Focus Functions)
  • West Side Story (20th Century Studios)

Top foreign movies:

  • “The Planet” (Utopia)
  • “A Hero” (Amazon Studios)
  • “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • “Titanium” (neon)
  • “The worst man in the world” (Neon)

Top documentaries:

  • “The first wave” (neon)
  • “Go away” (neon)
  • “Procession” (Netflix)
  • “Val” (Amazon Studios)
  • «The Velvet Underground» (Apple Original Films)

Top Independent Movies:

  • “The Card Counter”
  • “C’mon C’mon” (A24)
  • “CODA” (Apple Original Films)
  • “The Green Knight” (A24)
  • «The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain» (Gravitas Ventures)
  • “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
  • “Passing” (Netflix)
  • “Shiva Baby” (Utopia)
  • “Test Pattern” (Kino Lorber)
  • “Wild Indian” (Vertical Entertainment)

New York Film Critics Circle:

Best Movie: “Licorice Pizza” (MGM / United Artists Releasing)
Alternative: “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)

Director: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
Substitute: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza” (MGM / United Artists Releasing)

Actor: Simon Rex, «Red Rocket» (A24)
Alternate: Nicolas Cage, “Pig” (Neon)

Actor: Kristen Stewart, «Spencer» (Neon / Topic Studios)
Substitute: Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Auxiliary actor: Kodi Smit-McPhee, «The Power of the Dog» (Netflix)
Substitute: Colman Domingo, “Zola” (A24)

Second Female Role: Rita Moreno, “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
Substitute: Ruth Negga, “Passing” (Netflix)

Scenario: «Licorice Pizza» (MGM / United Artists Releasing) – Paul Thomas Anderson
Alternative: “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) – Jane Campion

Animation: «The Mitchells vs. the Machines »(Netflix)
Alternative: “Flee” (Neon)

Cinema: «The Power of the Dog» (Netflix) – Ari Wegner
Alternative: “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures) – Dan Laustsen

Non-fiction film: “Faya Dayi” (Janus Films)
Alternative: “Flee” (Neon)

Foreign language film: «Drive My Car» (Sideshow / Janus Films)
Alternative: “The Worst Man in the World” (Neon)

Best First Movie: Maggie Gyllenhaal, «The Lost Daughter» (Netflix)
Substitute: Blerta Basholli, “Hive” (Zeitgeist Films)

Predictions for the 2022 Oscars

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