Monday, December 15, 2003

Warning: uber-geeky Oscar post ahead.

An out-and-out stunner from the New York Film Critics Circle today, as this independently-minded group of crix, who normally go for the arthouse princes and kings in their voting, named The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as their best picture of 2003. This is a group that just four years ago crowned Topsy-Turvy the best film of 1999. This is huge, and potentially changes the complexity of the Oscar race, already on a fast track because of its having been moved up a month this year (to February 29th). Last week, the National Board of Review "officially" launched the Oscar race by awarding Mystic River its top prize and bestowing lead acting honors on Sean Penn (21 Grams and Mystic River) and Diane Keaton (current box-office champ Something's Gotta Give). The NBR also gave best director to The Last Samurai's Ed Zwick - and they've been about the only crix org, thus far, to go against the tide carrying Lost in Translation's Sofia Coppola (who, if Oscar nommed, would be only the third woman to do so, the others being Lina Wertmuller in '76 for Seven Beauties and The Piano's Jane Campion in '93). The NYFCC, Boston, and NY Film Critics Online have all gone with Coppola, with the SanFran crix going with Peter Jackson for LOTR. Lost star Bill Murray's doing even better, getting the lead acting award from everyone except the NBR thus far - NYFCC, Boston, SF, and NYFCO have all gone his way. The race for Best Actress is a tighter one; SF and NYFCO went with Monster's Charlize Theron, Boston with Lost's Scarlett Johansson (who's reportedly being pushed by Focus in Supporting Actress), and NYFCC gave it to Hope Davis for The Secret Lives of Dentists and American Splendor. This is just starting to get good, y'all...

On a related note, our local public radio station, WHRO, is hosting a benefit screening Thursday night, the area premiere of Cold Mountain, which is of course Miramax's annual Oscar-bait movie. It's at the Naro, just around the corner, so you know I've already got my tickets. [Fellow film buff Chas will be joining me.] Which means that either Thursday night or Friday morning, I'll post my review of the Jude-Nicole-Renée epic.

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