Hugh Jackman carries Isabelle Allen in "Les Miserables," a… (Laurie Sparham )
The New York Film Critics Circle upset the awards-season apple cart last year when its chairman, John Anderson, spearheaded a move to leapfrog every other critics group and announce its prizes on Nov. 28.
That date was ultimately pushed back a day to accommodate David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." But it was still too early for members to see another high-profile kudos candidate, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," prompting some to note that the New York group seemed more interested in being first than considering all the possible candidates.
In truth, few of the members liked the early date, many grousing (as critics will do) that they didn't have time to view or revisit all the year's worthy films.
So Tuesday's announcement that the New York critics panel will vote on Dec. 3 is something of a compromise. The date is late enough to include such December releases as "Les Miserables," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Hobbit," but probably still too early for some of the group's more diligent members to see everything they'd like to consider. (As a longtime member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., I can attest to the annual rite of weeping and/or gnashing of teeth among some critics trying to catch up with the year's cinematic bounty in time to, in their minds, properly vote.)
An NYFCC press release notes that the group's awards "are often viewed as harbingers of the Oscar nominations. The circle's awards are also viewed -- perhaps more accurately -- as a principled alternative to the Oscars, honoring aesthetic merit in a forum that is immune to commercial and political pressures."
It's curious that the author of the press release somehow fails to grasp that if you view yourself as a sort of (ahem) "principled alternative to the Oscars," you probably shouldn't mention the Oscars at all in your press release, much less tout your prizes as a precursor to those very same awards.
At any rate, the New York group votes its principles on Dec. 3. The Los Angeles critics' organization will announce its winners on Dec. 9.
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