New York Film Critics Circle Contretemps

You expect an awards event to be a love fest with presenters presenting in exalted tones and awardees waxing benighted and grateful. That was true in part at last night's New York Film Critics Circle festivities at Crimson. But when Darren Aronofsky got up to speak about Black Swan's cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, awarded for that film's beautiful visuals, things got ugly.

The director, taking revenge for a negative review, took a swipe at Armond White, chair of the organization whose critique of his film in New York Press he found nasty, and the banter went on from there about the nature of artists and the people who judge their work. As Annette Bening put it gracefully, actors are like fragile gardenias and she and her husband Warren Beatty, also present, protect one another.

Director James Toback, presenting to Charles Ferguson for his deft and not-Wall-Street-friendly documentary, Inside Job, hurled some invective at President Obama for allowing the continuation of economic plunder left over from the Bush years. When it comes to politics, at the podium, everyone's a critic.

Then again, the evening had its share of lovin' too. Best Supporting Actress Melissa Leo spoke about Alice Ward, the Lowell mother of nine she portrays in The Fighter. Ward is hospitalized in Boston and a hundred friends and family stay by her side cheering her on to recovery. Director David O. Russell stood behind her and she playfully asked him not to stare at her tush. Australian actress Jacki Weaver, who plays a Ma Barker type psycho mom in Animal Kingdom, winner for Best First Film, introduced David Michod, the movie's mastermind. Ed Norton presented the award for Best Screenplay to Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for The Kids Are All Right, noting that their script extends the idea of what is "normal" in families. Presenting the Best Supporting Actor award to Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Willliams lovingly described her friend in the act of wiping kids' vomit. "And it wasn't even his kid," said the star of this year's Blue Valentine.

In a rare category, the publicist Jeff Hill was also recognized for his contribution to the film industry. Accepting the Best Actor accolade, Colin Firth summed up the evening: "That's what I love about New York. The critics!"

This post also appears on Gossip Central.