Now that December is here, that means you’ll start seeing many of the Oscar contenders starting to open every weekend. Around a dozen or so won’t open in the Twin Cities in either January or February of 2012, but will have already opened in New York or Los Angeles to qualify for the Academy Awards. As the year draws to a close, movie fans—me included—keep a close eye on other film awards, which are often good predictors of which films will ultimately be honored by the Academy.
Last Tuesday, the first of these award announcements was made by the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC), which features 31 film critics/journalists who write for publications in New York and meet once a year to vote on their favorite films and select winners in different categories. The NYFCC features some of my favorite national film critics—including J. Hoberman from the Village Voice, David Fear from Time Out New York, and Stephanie Zacharek from Movieline.com—as well as a few I completely despise and won’t read, including Armond White from the New York Press, Peter Travers from Rolling Stone, and Rex Reed from the New York Observer. With the NYFCC being the first out of the gate to give awards and recognition on 2011 films, other American film critic societies will start meeting and voting on their favorites too.
In the case of the NYFCC, they selected eleven winners, with four of the awards going to films that haven’t even opened in the Twin Cities: the wonderful silent film The Artist (opening Friday, December 13) took home best film and best director for French director Michel Hazanavicius; Best Actress went to Meryl Streep for her portrayal of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady (tentatively opening January 20, 2012); and Best Foreign Language Film went to the Iranian film A Separation (tentatively opening January 27, 2012). The next day the National Board of Review picked their winners, and they gave their top honor to Martin Scorsese’s family adventure Hugo—a movie that didn’t even show up anywhere on the NYFCC list.
While I enjoying seeing all the different National Society of Film Critics lists each year, a few years ago I was bothered by one simple fact: the Twin Cities don’t have a Film Critics Society? With a number of film critics active in the Twin Cities, I wonder whether we could all come together and perhaps start a Twin Cities Film Critics Society. After all, there’s already an Iowa Film Critics Society. I don’t mean to dis the film critics of Iowa, but if Iowa can have a film critics society, then the Twin Cities can certainly sustain one.
At the last census in 2010, Minnesota’s population was around 5.3 million people, while Iowa’s population barely cracked three million. Minnesota has a number of professional sports teams, and Iowa doesn’t even have one—unless you include the Waterloo Hawks from the 1949-50 NBA season. I know the Twin Cities aren’t as big as cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, and San Francisco, but I think our film critics have just as much to say about these films as any film critics across the U.S. and some day it would be nice to have a TCFCS to call our own.