At Tao on Monday night, at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Julianne Moore said she has known Kristin Stewart since the Twilight actress was 12, which would explain their close connection in last year's Still Alice. In an awkward acceptance speech, Stewart found the Best Supporting Actress honor unexpected, given the movie Clouds of Sils Maria came out a year ago, but acknowledged that her work with Olivier Assayas was important to her because he was one of those directors able to "pull it out of me," even though she is a global star of popcorn movies. While no one would argue with the award-worthy quality of Stewart's work in this film, the choice to honor her this year may not translate to an Oscar nomination, the elephant in the room this week as academy voters assess the contenders.
The NYFCC is known for its good taste in films, whether or not their choices coincide with other awards. The critics gave Carol their Best Picture, honoring too the movie's director Todd Haynes, cinematographer Ed Lachman, and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy. Among other nice touches, the critics gave Son of Saul, a movie many consider a lock in the foreign film category, the award for Best First Feature to Laszlo Nemes, allowing the beautiful and urgent Timbuktu, about the consequences of a repressive regime takeover in Mali, their Best Foreign-Language Film Award. Moreover, they gave Best Actor to Michael Keaton, throwing weight behind a single actor in the very tight, superb Spotlight ensemble.
Most special of all was the award given posthumously to William Becker who died in September, and his company Janus Films, with Jim Jarmusch presenting. Having brought the work of Bergman, Bresson, Kurosawa and Ozu to the attention of the American audiences from the mid-1960s to the present, Janus films continues to rescue forgotten masterpieces, revitalizing them for new audiences. Just last year, under the auspices of their Criterion Collection, they put out a new edition of Burroughs: The Movie, a documentary of the artist from 1981. Filmmaker Howard Brookner was an early victim of AIDS, and the print was thought lost. Jarmusch had worked on the film, and as he reminded me, his wife filmmaker Sara Driver was instrumental in recovering it. The couple was among many film insiders on hand for this special night.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.