NEW YORK — Defying conventional wisdom, parting with their fellow critics' groups and perhaps changing the complexion of the Oscar race, the New York Film Critics Circle Thursday selected "Quiz Show," Robert Redford's character-based examination of the '50s television scandals, as the best picture of 1994.
"Pulp Fiction," which many had expected to win the top prize, took two awards: best director and best screenplay, both for Quentin Tarantino.
The Critics Circle, voting for the 60th time since its inception in 1935, chose Paul Newman as best actor for his performance in Robert Benton's "Nobody's Fool." It was a close vote between Newman and Samuel L. Jackson, picked for his highly regarded work in "Pulp Fiction."
Linda Fiorentino, the femme fatale with the heart of ice in John Dahl's "The Last Seduction," was chosen best actress, over some healthy support for Jennifer Jason-Leigh ("Hudsucker Proxy" and "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle") and newcomer Crissy Rock of Ken Loach's "Ladybird, Ladybird."
Martin Landau was chosen best supporting actor for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood" on the first vote. Dianne Weist, the centerpiece of Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway," was selected best supporting actress. Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Red," a strong contender for best picture honors, won instead for best foreign film. Likewise, "Hoop Dreams," which took best documentary.
When the awards are handed out at the Circle's annual dinner Jan. 22, a special award will be bestowed on French director Jean-Luc Godard for his "influence on world cinema." At the other end of the career spectrum, newcomer Darnell Martin will be feted as best first-time filmmaker--an award given only on a year-by-year basis--for her exuberant "I Like It Like That."
Although the New York and Los Angeles critics differed on the best picture and best actor awards--John Travolta ("Pulp Fiction") and Jessica Lange ("Blue Skies), who won the L.A. awards Saturday, got virtually no support in New York--they agreed more than they didn't: Landau, Weist, "Red," "Hoop Dreams" and cinematographer Stefan Czapsky ("Ed Wood") have all been honored by both groups, as was Tarantino for best director.