National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Predictions: Netflix and ‘Licorice Pizza’ Could Dominate

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  • Jane Campion
    New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and film director

No more pencils, no more books… it’s time for the critics’ awards’ dirty looks.

The first of the two most vital precursors of the awards season will be handed out – National Board of Review on Thursday followed by New York Film Critics on Friday.

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After a pandemic year that brought unclear frontrunners and differing eligibility calendars, the two groups, in addition to Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which will announce on Dec. 12, all are coming off a year where their top film picks failed to garner nearly any Oscar love – “Da 5 Bloods” (NBR), “First Cow” (NYFCC) and “Small Axe” (LAFCA). In the case of the latter two, it was the first time in their histories that their selection for best film failed to get a single Oscar nom.

So what will be their darling this year?

NYFCC loves deep and rich narratives (i.e., Todd Haynes’ “Carol”) and rarely falls for the presumed Academy frontrunner, shown by matching them once in the last decade (i.e., Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist”). This bodes well for two Netflix features, “The Power of the Dog” from Jane Campion and “The Lost Daughter” from Maggie Gyllenhaal.

The group has also been influenced by their most recent screenings, proven by their 2013 pick of “American Hustle” from David O. Russell, which they viewed the day before voting. That could be helpful for Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” which both right before the deadline.

The early days of the precursors can be misleading. For example, before “The Shape of Water” won best picture, but it was absent from NBR’s top ten list and was also omitted from multiple groups, leaving many to believe it was DOA for the Academy. None of the “The Lord of the Rings” films ever made a respective NBR list either. Pundits can also be fooled into thinking actors like Regina Hall (“Support the Girls”) and Rachel Weisz (“The Deep Blue Sea”) are in the race before being ignored everywhere else. I’m suspecting presumed Oscar frontrunner “Belfast” from Kenneth Branagh will be absent from the two bodies this week, which will certainly spark some discussion with some headlines asking, “Is it dead?” Spoiler alert, it is not.

Some races are aching for clarity, like supporting actor, which is still devoid of an agreed-upon frontrunner even though the “Belfast” men, Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds, could easily fill that space. Supporting actress is the most competitive acting race, bringing 20 women to the table, but this could be a moment for Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”) or Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) to assert their places. It’ll be interesting to see if one of the groups goes for the charms of Rita Moreno from “West Side Story” as well.

The National Board of Review has typically fallen hard for Warner Bros and Clint Eastwood movies (don’t think they’ll be going for “Cry Macho” but a top 10 showing is not out of the question). This could be a strong launch for Denis Villeneuve because “Dune” has still been building serious momentum over the past few weeks. The lead acting categories, filled with movie stars like Andrew Garfield from “Tick, Tick … Boom!” and Kristen Stewart from “Spencer” are hoping for strong kickoffs, not just for campaign purposes but for Oscar ratings as well.

Lady Gaga’s work in “House of Gucci” is very much on the table — considering NBR rewarded her for “A Star is Born,” they should have no qualms about revisiting the well.

Down below are the predictions for the two critical groups in all of their categories:

National Board of Review:

Best Film: “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
Alternate: “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)

Director: Denis Villeneuve, “Dune” (Warner Bros)
Alternate: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)

Actor: Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” (Netflix)
Alternate: Peter Dinklage, “Cyrano” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

Actress: Lady Gaga, “House of Gucci” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Alternate: Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)

Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur, “CODA” (Apple Original Films)
Alternate: J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon)

Supporting Actress: Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard” (Warner Bros)
Alternate: Ann Dowd, “Mass” (Bleecker Street)

Original Screenplay: “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) – Paul Thomas Anderson
Alternate: “C’mon C’mon” (A24) – Mike Mills

Adapted Screenplay: “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) – Jane Campion
Alternate: “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (Apple Original Films/A24) – Joel Coen

Animated: “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” (Netflix)
Alternate: “Luca” (Pixar)

Breakthrough Performance: Rachel Zegler, “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
Alternate: Alana Haim, “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

Best Directorial Debut: Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
Alternate: Jeymes Samuel, “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)

Best Foreign Language Film: “Flee” (Denmark)
Alternate: “Drive My Car” (Japan)

Best Documentary: “The Rescue” (National Geographic)
Alternate: “The First Wave” (Neon)

Best Ensemble: “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
Alternate: “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)

NBR Freedom of Expression: “Passing” (Netflix)
Alternate: “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)

Top 10 Films (in alphabetical order):

  • “Cruella” (Walt Disney Pictures)

  • “Dune” (Warner Bros)

  • “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)

  • “The Last Duel” (20th Century Studios)

  • “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • “King Richard” (Warner Bros)

  • “Stillwater” (Focus Features)

  • “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)

Top Foreign Films:

  • “El Planeta” (Utopia)

  • “A Hero” (Amazon Studios)

  • “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)

  • “Titane” (Neon)

  • “The Worst Person in the World” (Neon)

Top Documentaries:

  • “The First Wave” (Neon)

  • “Flee” (Neon)

  • “Procession” (Netflix)

  • “Val” (Amazon Studios)

  • “The Velvet Underground” (Apple Original Films)

Top Independent Films:

  • “The Card Counter” (Focus Features)

  • “C’mon C’mon” (A24)

  • “CODA” (Apple Original Films)

  • “The Green Knight” (A24)

  • “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain” (Gravitas Ventures)

  • “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)

  • “Passing” (Netflix)

  • “Shiva Baby” (Utopia)

  • “Test Pattern” (Kino Lorber)

  • “Wild Indian” (Vertical Entertainment)

New York Film Critics Circle:

Best Film: “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Alternate: “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)

Director: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
Alternate: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

Actor: Simon Rex, “Red Rocket” (A24)
Alternate: Nicolas Cage, “Pig” (Neon)

Actress: Kristen Stewart, “Spencer” (Neon/Topic Studios)
Alternate: Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Supporting Actor: Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
Alternate: Colman Domingo, “Zola” (A24)

Supporting Actress: Rita Moreno, “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
Alternate: Ruth Negga, “Passing” (Netflix)

Screenplay: “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) – Paul Thomas Anderson
Alternate: “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) – Jane Campion

Animated Film: “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” (Netflix)
Alternate: “Flee” (Neon)

Cinematography: “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) – Ari Wegner
Alternate: “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures) – Dan Laustsen

Non-Fiction Film: “Faya Dayi” (Janus Films)
Alternate: “Flee” (Neon)

Foreign Language Film: “Drive My Car” (Sideshow/Janus Films)
Alternate: “The Worst Person in the World” (Neon)

Best First Film: Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
Alternate: Blerta Basholli, “Hive” (Zeitgeist Films)

2022 Academy Awards Predictions

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