BFCA Critics Choice Awards

For the films of 2015
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:59 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Apropos: Magilla, your invoking the 1995 Braveheart precedent is interesting (though I for one think it's calumny to put the Out of Africa win in the same sentence). However, I'd view the analogy from a different angle: I'm thinking, if anything, Mad Max is Babe -- a decently imaginative film (with George Miller attached!) that made some critics, for whatever reason, go crazily over the top with praise. Babe, recall, won the National Society's best picture prize, a choice to me as baffling as Fury Road this year. Sometimes critics just get a wild hair, and this year might be one of them.


I'll admit that Out of Africa is a bit of a stretch, but not Braveheart, a movie I detested. My original train of thought was to go back to 1965 with one major win that sent chills up my spine and not in a good way every ten years on the 5s- including George Burns in 1975 and Martin Balsam in 1965. Babe was a surprise nominee for Best Picture, but would have been a more acceptable winner than Braveheart. My favorite that year, though, was the non-nominated Dead Man Walking with Sense and Sensibility my choice among the nominees.

I don't remember Brian Darr (rain Bard) making that San Francisco comment, but it does sound like something a prominent San Francisco radio and TV critic, a woman who is also a documentary filmmaker, would say, and probably did.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:25 pm

Wow -- one little throwaway sub-clause provokes all this conversation.

First off: the idea that we're only saying bad things about the podunk groups because of Mad Max is silly, for two reasons: 1) the Mad Max insanity is far more a product of the old-guard groups (second place for best picture in both NY and LA) -- though the regional groups of course play their usual role of amplifying megaphone; and 2) as okri (if no one else) can attest, bitching about those groups has been my m.o. for as long as I can remember.

Wasn't it rain bard who spoke with someone who told him "I get to vote for the Oscars this year" -- and it turned out he was a newly admitted member of the San Francisco Film Critics? It's very hard to look at those groups and feel their main interest is anything but Oscar-whoring. They all release lists of categories with five nominees (something no critics' group ought to be doing); they almost always endorse whatever category fraud being promoted (lots of Mara/Vikander in support this year); and, again as a general matter, they echo the names being most heavily bandied about (Michael Shannon, on no one's list 8 days ago, is suddenly all the rage from Indiana to Phoenix to Austin). There may be minute variation in outcomes -- your Online Film Critics Society is to be commended for choosing Fassbender, not DiCaprio as (I can guarantee) the bulk of those groups will -- but by and large their results, year after year, coalesce around the candidates season-long buzz has marked as chosen for the year. (There must be five groups already who've done the Spotlight/George Miller split -- not exactly a sign of independent thinking.)

As BJ says, this is not to say there aren't individuals within any of these organizations whose opinions are worth following. (Nate Rogers is a member of the worst, the dread Broadcast group, but I read him regularly.) What I'm saying is, collectively, they forge the all-too-often dreary consensuses that have made the Oscars so much less interesting in recent years, and it happens with such consistency that it's hard to believe it's not deliberate on the part of some.

Whereas, no matter how violently I may disagree with a winner in NY or LA, I never doubt the victory was the result of honest if quirky opinion.

Apropos: Magilla, your invoking the 1995 Braveheart precedent is interesting (though I for one think it's calumny to put the Out of Africa win in the same sentence). However, I'd view the analogy from a different angle: I'm thinking, if anything, Mad Max is Babe -- a decently imaginative film (with George Miller attached!) that made some critics, for whatever reason, go crazily over the top with praise. Babe, recall, won the National Society's best picture prize, a choice to me as baffling as Fury Road this year. Sometimes critics just get a wild hair, and this year might be one of them.

I'm still wondering if the directors' branch of the Academy will put a (now unexpected) stop to the Fury Road run. The film is so not their general taste that all this momentum still doesn't fully persuade me. (And it's clearly going to get PGA/probably DGA up ahead.) The odd thing (from my point of view, and I guess I'll speak for the getting-olds here): if it falls short, those of us who feel it's just a genre piece that didn't deserve such elevation will be labelled Philistines by the cool critics.

Oscar Guy, I don't have time to get into it now (just this much has depleted what little energy I had tonight), but your contention that it's only Internet critics who've championed smaller/indie films for Oscars is wildly a-historical. If I can block out some time over the weekend, I'll elaborate on that.

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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:41 pm

anonymous1980 wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:Critics should be different though, and in all honesty when I see all these prizes given by all these groups, I feel that they are too many, too much alike in their choices, and conservative and predictable in a way that critics - true critics - should never be. But then, of course, one isn't a critic just because he/she chooses to be, or because others - often on the same level - decide that he/she is a critic. It''s not that simple. It's democratic, maybe, but it doesn't work like this. And while internet has given to some who are certainly intelligent a way of getting visible and known, too many who are clearly banal and superficial have also profited from the same kind of visibility. As Umberto Eco has recently said: "Internet has given speaking rights to legions of imbeciles". It's sad but it's true.

The "silent majority" has always been, let's face it, rather stupid - but at least it was silent. They bought cinema tickets - which was important for the industry - but they didn't understand anything about cinema, and that wasn't a problem. The problem is that now this majority isnt silent anymore - internet has given them a voice. So purely commercial action movies which once would have been just box-office hits - and sometimes not even that - now get into the kind of territory - critical praise - which used to be reserved to more artistic efforts. And this is a very dangerous trend.



So are you saying that Sight & Sound, Film Comment, Cahiers du Cinema, the Village Voice and Slant Magazine have all somehow been taken over by idiots, lost their minds or been paid off by the Big Studios for daring to rank a commercial action genre picture, Mad Max: Fury Road very highly in their respective year-end lists?


No. I can't say that because I haven't seen Mad Max Fury Road yet. But in case I see it and find it stupid, yes, I will say it (that they have lost their minds - I really hope that they can't be bought). The majority isn't always right. And even just putting Cahiers du Cinema and Slant Magazine in the same sentence and the same context shows how confused some of us are.

But for example I saw Gravity and I don't think it's a masterpiece. I'm sure that some of the magazines you mentioned thought highly of that one, too.

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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:33 pm

ITALIANO wrote:Critics should be different though, and in all honesty when I see all these prizes given by all these groups, I feel that they are too many, too much alike in their choices, and conservative and predictable in a way that critics - true critics - should never be. But then, of course, one isn't a critic just because he/she chooses to be, or because others - often on the same level - decide that he/she is a critic. It''s not that simple. It's democratic, maybe, but it doesn't work like this. And while internet has given to some who are certainly intelligent a way of getting visible and known, too many who are clearly banal and superficial have also profited from the same kind of visibility. As Umberto Eco has recently said: "Internet has given speaking rights to legions of imbeciles". It's sad but it's true.

The "silent majority" has always been, let's face it, rather stupid - but at least it was silent. They bought cinema tickets - which was important for the industry - but they didn't understand anything about cinema, and that wasn't a problem. The problem is that now this majority isnt silent anymore - internet has given them a voice. So purely commercial action movies which once would have been just box-office hits - and sometimes not even that - now get into the kind of territory - critical praise - which used to be reserved to more artistic efforts. And this is a very dangerous trend.



So are you saying that Sight & Sound, Film Comment, Cahiers du Cinema, the Village Voice and Slant Magazine have all somehow been taken over by idiots, lost their minds or been paid off by the Big Studios for daring to rank a commercial action genre picture, Mad Max: Fury Road very highly in their respective year-end lists?

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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby CalWilliam » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:48 pm

ITALIANO wrote:
I haven't seen Mad Max yet. But yesterday I was on a train - a quite long trip. The man sitting beside me at one point started watching a movie on his pc. I couldn't hear one word because he was using earphones, but I could still see the images on the screen. I had no idea of what could that movie be - but I thought it was one of tthose 80s Golan-Globus produtions - it looked just THAT bad. And then suddenly, after five minutes during which I was thinking "ok, this man is an idiot", the title finally appeared. It was Mad Max Fury Road.


This little tale gives me delectation :D. I'm longing for reading your opinion, Marco, if you finally get to see it. If only you could avoid the ultimate torture.

Again, I can't fathom the consensus.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:04 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:I haven't seen Mad Max yet. But yesterday I was on a train - a quite long trip. The man sitting beside me at one point started watching a movie on his pc. I couldn't hear one word because the man used earphones, but I could still see the images on the screen. I had no idea of what could that movie be - but I thought it was one of tthose 80s Golan-Globus produtions - it looked just THAT bad. And then suddenly, after five minutes during which I was thinking "ok, this man is an idiot", the title finally appeared. It was Mad Max Fury Road.


I had a related experience yesterday.

I was flipping channels on TV and came across the original Mad Max, which I hadn't seen since the 1980s. I thought I'd watch it and see if it had improved with age. It hadn't, really, but I actually liked it better than Fury Road. The original, it should be remembered, was made on a small budget so there were fewer grotesque characters, fewer revenge killings, fewer things to put me off.


What can we do, Big Magilla? It seems we are getting old - me even more than you probably :wink:

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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:57 pm

ITALIANO wrote:I haven't seen Mad Max yet. But yesterday I was on a train - a quite long trip. The man sitting beside me at one point started watching a movie on his pc. I couldn't hear one word because the man used earphones, but I could still see the images on the screen. I had no idea of what could that movie be - but I thought it was one of tthose 80s Golan-Globus produtions - it looked just THAT bad. And then suddenly, after five minutes during which I was thinking "ok, this man is an idiot", the title finally appeared. It was Mad Max Fury Road.


I had a related experience yesterday.

I was flipping channels on TV and came across the original Mad Max, which I hadn't seen since the 1980s. I thought I'd watch it and see if it had improved with age. It hadn't, really, but I actually liked it better than Fury Road. The original, it should be remembered, was made on a small budget so there were fewer grotesque characters, fewer revenge killings, fewer things to put me off.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:48 pm

Of course critics are important to the success or failure of a film. Of course people want to know what their favorite critics think are the best films of a given year. So, yes, if your favorite critic thinks a certain film is the year's best you will seek out that film along with others he or she recommends. If you don't follow any particular critic, only go by Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores, you will seek out those films with the highest scores. However, unless you don't have a mind of your own, you will probably like the majority of high rated films but dislike others. Conversely, you will like dislike most low-rated films, but find some you like despite the consensus.

However, this has nothing to do with the Oscars. The average age of the Oscar voter at last count was 64. For every 34-year-old voter there are two 79-year-old voters. It's going to take a long time for old habits to die out. If and/or until they do, those older Oscar voters who rely on critical guidance will continue to pay more attention to the organizations they have followed all their voting lives than the myriad of newer choices that are beyond their sphere of influence.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:41 pm

I'm sure that there are some internet critics who, taken individually, are good. And Oscar Guy isn't wrong when he points out that - even without internet - movies like The Greatest Show on Earth used to win Best Picture. The Oscars have always had this "trashy" side - not all years, thank God, and there have been good periods with deserving winners, but the commercial aspect has always played a role.

Critics should be different though, and in all honesty when I see all these prizes given by all these groups, I feel that they are too many, too much alike in their choices, and conservative and predictable in a way that critics - true critics - should never be. But then, of course, one isn't a critic just because he/she chooses to be, or because others - often on the same level - decide that he/she is a critic. It''s not that simple. It's democratic, maybe, but it doesn't work like this. And while internet has given to some who are certainly intelligent a way of getting visible and known, too many who are clearly banal and superficial have also profited from the same kind of visibility. As Umberto Eco has recently said: "Internet has given speaking rights to legions of imbeciles". It's sad but it's true.

The "silent majority" has always been, let's face it, rather stupid - but at least it was silent. They bought cinema tickets - which was important for the industry - but they didn't understand anything about cinema, and that wasn't a problem. The problem is that now this majority isnt silent anymore - internet has given them a voice. So purely commercial action movies which once would have been just box-office hits - and sometimes not even that - now get into the kind of territory - critical praise - which used to be reserved to more artistic efforts. And this is a very dangerous trend.

Also, the way these groups often lazily mirror in their choices the general consensus - and the Oscar predictions which, in turns, other bloggers do - show an anxiousness to "please", to be part of what once what called "the establishment", which is exactly what serious critics shouldn't do.

I haven't seen Mad Max yet. But yesterday I was on a train - a quite long trip. The man sitting beside me at one point started watching a movie on his pc. I couldn't hear one word because he was using earphones, but I could still see the images on the screen. I had no idea of what could that movie be - but I thought it was one of tthose 80s Golan-Globus produtions - it looked just THAT bad. And then suddenly, after five minutes during which I was thinking "ok, this man is an idiot", the title finally appeared. It was Mad Max Fury Road.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:38 am

I'm not talking about the BFCA specifically (though, it didn't start out as an Oscar whoring body like the Globes. It just took over for them when they started turning into a respectable organization). I'm referring to all those other groups out there that Tee has lumped together with the BFCA.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby flipp525 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:37 am

OscarGuy wrote:Recognizing what you feel is the best of the year is meaningless? Groups bonding together in solidarity to share their passion in movies and provide support for each other as fellow critics, proffering advice and information to help them do their jobs more adequately and accurately? Because we follow the Oscars, we seem to think that these groups only exist to give out awards. Such a belief is misleading.

That is literally the raison d'être of the BFCA Critics Choice Awards. Well, that, and to show how predictive they supposedly are in guessing what the Oscar nominations will be which is why they nominate 6-7 people in each category in order to cover all their bases.

I'm also going to argue with this idea that Room wouldn't be in the conversation this year had it not been for critic's groups citations. Immediately upon its opening, Brie Larson was talked about as a surefire contender for lead actress and Jacob Tremblay was cited as well. The nominations/awards are nice to build some momentum, but it's not like the film (based on a very popular book with a built-in audience) wasn't on anyone's radar yet until East Buttfuck Egypt Regional Critic's Association gave Larson a Best Actress citation.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:23 am

Recognizing what you feel is the best of the year is meaningless? Groups bonding together in solidarity to share their passion in movies and provide support for each other as fellow critics, proffering advice and information to help them do their jobs more adequately and accurately? Because we follow the Oscars, we seem to think that these groups only exist to give out awards. Such a belief is misleading. Maybe individual groups don't have influence, but together, they can influence the conversation. They can champion films and performances that seem to have been forgotten.

The ONLY reason people are going off on them this year with such vociferousness is because they have given attention to Mad Max that some here seem to think is the devil when it has more in common with the auteur theory in context and the French New Wave in construction than most modern films. Just because it happens to be *ack* a genre pic and because some of you don't "get" why the critics love it doesn't mean that it doesn't have a place in the conversation. You also then seem to forget that if it weren't for these critics groups, Charlotte Rampling would be all but forgotten this season, Brooklyn wouldn't be doing nearly as well (did you know the film has quietly amassed 11 nominations from various groups, tying The Revenant and coming in just behind Spotlight, Mad Max, Carol, Room and The Martian?), Room would likely not even be in the conversation.

As much as you loathe these groups, they have quietly turned the conversations towards independent cinema. Without them, the Academy, at least looking at its pre-Internet Age nominations, would likely be focused on films with broader appeal? We're in an era similar to the 1970's when critics had sway. When left to its own devices and succumbing to the pressure of people like Harvey Weinstein, the Academy nominates things like The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Philomena, Captain Phillips, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Warhorse, The King's Speech, The Blind Side, The Reader, etc. Without the critics groups creating a narrative around smaller films like Birdman, Boyhood, Grand Budapest, Whiplash, Her, Nebraska, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Descendants, The Tree of Life, Black Swan, Winter's Bone, District 9, An Education and A Serious Man. You may not like all these films and you might even like some the Academy nominated. Hell, you might even think some of the smaller films would have made it and the more sappy ones wouldn't have, but if it weren't for these Bumfuck Nebraska Critics Circles, we'd likely see the same broad appeal to the Oscars as they had in the 1980's or the 1950's, 1940's, 1930's and so forth.

For good or ill, you'd be filled with regrets if so many smaller films weren't in the conversation simply because the big Four didn't recognize them. And don't get me started on the idiosyncrasies of NYFCC, LAFCA, NBR or NSFC which all seemed to have lost a great deal of influence after the 1970's. Let's also be clear that if it weren't for the internet age, the Golden Globes wouldn't have made a shift from glitzy trifles to serious attention-grabbing selections. Honestly, they've been more savvy in the last two decades than SAG has in some cases.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Dec 16, 2015 6:43 am

I do wish most of these groups would just disappear.

Naturally the New York, LA & NSFC are notable and even though the NBR is a joke they have been around for so long it matters not that they still chug along.

The Globes have also had an element of fun. The BFTA's would be better off sticking to just British films only, which they tender to favour anyway when it comes to giving out the actual awards.

But everyone else should cease their meaningless awards. I don't even bother to look at most of them to be honest.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:53 am

OscarGuy wrote:I sometimes wonder why so many of you still follow the Oscars if they are abandoning all that you once loved about them. The Academy is diversifying and is still a representation of the Hollywood elite, just like it always was. They just happen to be embracing the modernization of filmmaking, not sequestering itself in the past. I will admit that some need to be educated on the films of the past better than they are, but let's also remember that the Academy gave The Greatest Show on Earth Best Picture. Claiming that they are somehow the arbiters of taste and only the critics groups of ages past could possibly still be adequately prepared to judge the best of the year. Just because your primary outlet is print doesn't mean you are a better film critic than someone whose primary outlet is the internet. I can name any number of former print critics who are now writing solely on the internet. Have they suddenly lost their luster because they are now a "blogger?"


Damien, Cam and John Harkness are gone. Only Tee and I, of those who turned forty before the proliferation of the internet, still post on a regular basis so I guess this means us.

I don't know anyone that loves the Oscars per se. People love the idea of the Oscars, but there isn't a single soul that hasn't groused about individual nominations and wins from the start. The critics' groups, of which the New York Film Critics Circle, established in 1936, is the oldest, have had a fractious history from the outset as well. The National Board of Review started out as a censorship group. Their annual best picture list goes back to at least 1930, but they have always been dismissed by the critical elite, their greatest claim to fame being that they are almost always the first group out with their awards. The influence NBR, the NYFCC and later the National Society of Film Critics and the L.A. Film Critics have had on AMPAS is that they give direction to the voting members to catch up with the films they champion, but AMPAS has always gone its own way with the actual nominations, sometimes agreeing with them, sometimes not. Studio and publicist prodding, stars mingling with people they'd never associate with otherwise, all factor in their consideration. Newer critics organizations, not so much.

With the proliferation of new organizations that continue to pop up, it's impossible for AMPAS members to know which ones to take their cues from, so they generally don't. They'll take notice of trends, but won't rush to see a film that some group they barely heard of gave an award to someone or something they hadn't considered, especially in these days of scheduling time to look at screeners during the busy holiday season before having to cast their ballots. Boston, Chicago and Kansas City critics' organizations, for example, have been around a long time, but AMPAS rarely pays attention to their non-mainstream choices.

Guild awards are important because they reflect what industry members think, but are not an absolute in predicting how AMPAS will go. SAG, The Globes, the Broadcast Film Critics and latterly, BAFTA awards, most of which are presented before final Oscar ballots are due, are important to the process because they are televised and project how the potential winners will act at the Oscars. These things can affect close races.

So, while awards from the Spokane Online Film Critics Association (is there really such a thing?) or at the other end of the spectrum, the AARP Award for Grown-Ups, might be nice for the recipients or their family and friends, it really won't affect the Oscar race. The point is that if we get worked up over the early NBR, NYFC and to an extent the LAFC voting more than we do the other organizations' choices, it's because we know that those are the things that influence AMPAS the most.
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Re: BFCA Critics Choice Awards

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:14 am

OscarGuy wrote:However, I think he's referring to anyone outside of the NBR/NYFCC/LAFCA/NSFC bloc.


Well, the Spokane Online Film Critics Association and whatever other day-old group that has popped up this week to try to convince me that Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander are supporting actresses are also whores.


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