After months and months of hollering out too soon! we now find ourselves knee-deep in Awards Season. And for the second year in a row – a year with no clear frontrunner as we begin December.

Things can be said for films like LA LA LAND, MOONLIGHT, or MANCHESTER BY THE SEA…but none of those are are rolling down the track like THE ARTIST, none are spurring SOCIAL NETWORK/KINGS SPEECH-esque arguments, and none have embodied a greater narrative like “Is this Scorsese’s year” with THE DEPARTED.

Things are wide open…which is what makes watching the race shape-up so interesting.

As I type, the two largest critical bodies have had their say, ditto the National Board of Review, and the Independent Spirits. That does leave much to be discussed, but its already telling a very interesting tale.

If there’s a theme so far it’s that the studios are lagging in the race. The trio of 2016 films mentioned above come to us from Summit, A24, and Amazon respectively. If studios like Sony (SILENCE) or Paramount (ARRIVAL) are going to make some noise…then it would appear as though they have some work to do!

The National Board of Review got us started last week by awarding Kenneth Lonnergan’s MANCHESTER BY THE SEA best picture. The NY Film Critics tapped LA LA LAND, and the Los Angeles Film Critics tapped MOONLIGHT as top dogs. Is it just me, or does that seem backwards?


A few other observations…


  • Those looking for a counterpunch to #OscarsSoWhite seem to be in luck. With MOONLIGHT (deservedly) making a lot of early noise, and HIDDEN FIGURES likewise making its presence known…there appears to be the possibility of true diversity on the horizon. Let’s wait before we count those chickens though, shall we?
  • In the same light, early returns on THE BIRTH OF A NATION are not good (Not that Fox Searchlight isn’t trying its damndest). Sometimes moral character matters, and sometimes Oscars are not handed out during Sundance.
  • Directorially, no women appear to be on-track to land themselves a nomination this year (not that there weren’t some glorious efforts).
  • While the NBR list can be a decent indicator of things to come, it should by no means be considered a Best in Class. Last year THE HATEFUL EIGHT, INSIDE OUT, and SICARIO all made their shortlist, only to be relegated to lesser categories come Oscar-time. Who will it be this year?

Lots of game still to be played…but it’s shaping up to be a great class!


National Board of Review Winners

Best Film: Manchester by the Sea
Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Best Actress: Amy Adams, Arrival
Best Supporting Actor: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Best Supporting Actress: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence
Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings
Breakthrough Performance (Male): Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Breakthrough Performance (Female): Royalty Hightower, The Fits
Best Directorial Debut: Trey Edward Shults, Krisha
Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
Best Documentary: O.J.: Made in America
Best Ensemble: Hidden Figures
Award: Creative Collaboration of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Cameraperson

Top Films
Hacksaw Ridge
Hail, Caesar!
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Patriots Day

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
The Handmaiden
Land of Mine

Top 5 Documentaries
De Palma
The Eagle Huntress
Life, Animated
Miss Sharon Jones!

Top 10 Independent Films
20th Century Women
Captain Fantastic
Creative Control
Eye in the Sky
The Fits
Green Room
Hello, My Name Is Doris
Morris From America
Sing Street


New York Film Critics Cirlce Awards

Best Picture: LA LA LAND
Best Director: Barry Jenkins, MOONLIGHT
Best Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, ELLE & THE THINGS TO COME
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA & CERTAIN WOMEN
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, MOONLIGHT
Best Cinematographer: James Laxton, MOONLIGHT
Best Animated Film: ZOOTOPIA
Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary): O.J.: Made in America
Best Foreign Language Film: Toni Erdmann
Best First Film: Kelly Fremon CraigTHE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
Best First Film: Trey Edward Shults, KRISHA
Special Award: Thelma Schoonmaker & Julie DashDAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (25TH ANNIVERSARY RESTORATION)


Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
Picture: Moonlight
Runner-up: La La Land

Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Runner-up: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle and Things to Come
Runner-up: Rebecca Hall, Christine

Actor: Adam Driver, Paterson
Runner-up: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Supporting actress: Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
Runner-up: Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Supporting actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Runner-up: Issey Ogata, Silence

Animated Film: Your Name
Runner-up: The Red Turtle
Foreign-Language Film: The Handmaiden
Runner-up: Toni Erdmann

Documentary/Non-Fiction: I Am Not Your Negro
Runner-up: O.J.: Made in America

Screenplay: Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster
Runner-up: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Editing: Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, Ben Sozanski, O.J.: Made in America
Runner-up: Tom Cross, La La Land

Production Design: Ryu Seong-hee, The Handmaiden
Runner-up: David Wasco, La La Land

Music score: Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, La La Land
Runner-up: Micah Levi, Jackie

Cinematography: James Laxton, Moonlight
Runner-up: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Douglas Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video Prize: The Illinois Parables from writer-director Deborah Stratman

Next Generation: Trey Edward Shults, Krisha Fairchild, Krisha

Special Citation: Turner Classic Movies for preserving historic cinema and bringing it to a wider audience via FilmStruck.

Lifetime achievement: Shirley MacLaine


Independent Spirit Award Nominees

Best Feature

American Honey
Manchester by the Sea

Best Director

Andrea Arnold (American Honey)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Pablo Larrain (Jackie)
Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women)
Jeff Nichols (Loving)

Best Screenplay

Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
Little Men
Hell or High Water

Best First Feature

The Childhood of a Leader
The Fits
Other People
Swiss Army Man
The Witch

Best First Screenplay

The Witch
Other People
Jean of the Joneses

Best Male Lead

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
David Harewood (Free in Deed)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Jesse Plemons (Other People)
Tim Roth (Chronic)

Best Female Lead

Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Sasha Lane (American Honey)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Supporting Male

Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash)
Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Shia LaBeouf (American Honey)
Craig Robinson (Morris From America)

Best Supporting Female

Edwina Findley (Free in Deed)
Paulina Garcia (Little Men)
Lily Gladstone (Certain Women)
Riley Keough (American Honey)
Molly Shannon (Other People)

Best Documentary

I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
Under the Sun

Best International Film

My Golden Days
Toni Erdmann
Under the Shadow

Best Cinematography

Free in Deed
Eyes of My Mother
American Honey

Best Editing

Swiss Army Man
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water

John Cassavetes Award (Best Feature Under $500,000)

Free in Deed
Hunter Gatherer
Spa Night

Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble)


Piaget Producers Award

Lisa Kjerulff
Jordana Mollick
Melody C. Roscher
Craig Shilowich

Someone to Watch Award

Andrew Ahn (Spa Night)
Claire Carre (Embers)
Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits)
Ingrid Jungermann (Women Who Kill)

Truer Than Fiction Award

Kristi Jacobson (Solitary)
Sara Jordenö (Kiki)
Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow)