All the contenders for the Oscar are attending the last minute award functions and throwing their own events in hopes of getting a good word in for their contention and convince the voting Academy members.
Starting from December 30th to 14th January, it is somewhat a race between all the contenders and this Oscar season it all goes down this week in freezing Gotham. Many contenders travelled in advance for Monday night's New York Film Critics Circle Awards (NYFCC) ceremony and Tuesday night's National Board of Review Awards.
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That is not all, this is open season for all contenders to host events of their own and invite the Academy members to the party as well.
This year, at the 81st NYFCC ceremony which took place at the Tao Downtown restaurant attracted the attendance of most of its honourees. Emceed by the group's president Marshall Fine and a coterie of notable presenters; the honourees included best director winner Todd Haynes for Carol, best actor winner Michael Keaton for Spotlight, best actress winner Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn and best supporting actress winner Kristen Stewart for Clouds of Sils Maria.
According to THR, other celebrated films included Bridge of Spies, for which Mark Rylance was awarded the best supporting actor prize in absentia, and best non-fiction film winner In Jackson Heights, which focuses on that Queens neighbourhood.
The NYFCC is a group of 35 working film critics who, this year, seem to have gravitated to films set in or about their city. Although the proceedings are not publically broadcasted, it is a chance for the honourees to be talked up by the presenters or just take their own time in the spotlight to talk about their stuff.
This was clearly a visible phenomenon when Liam Neeson had praises to sing of his fellow Irish artist Ronan; Julianne Moore hailed her Still Alice co-star Stewart for her tremendous abilities and authenticity; Samuel L. Jackson praised the room that 87-year-old best score winner Ennio Morricone who wrote the score forThe Hateful Eight; Bennett Miller called out to Laszlo Nemes, the director of best first film winner Son of Saul,; and Tony Kushner spoke so passionately and eloquently about best adapted screenplay winner Carol Phyllis Nagy. It was a ‘my speech is better than yours moment’ where rival movies had to appreciate their competition.
Michael Keaton did his part for Spotlight by covering just about all of his campaign-trail "talking points" in his remarks and followed his introduction by Spotlight co-writer and director Tom McCarthy. Kristen Stewart remained brief by remembering her MTV awards moments and comparing the magnitude of that to this and looking completely in awe.
While all of this happened at the award ceremonies, there were other events to attend as well. Kristen Stewart attended the screening of Clouds of Sils Maria at Greenwich Village's IFC Center and also participated in a Q&A. Open Road threw a luncheon on Monday afternoon in honour of Spotlight at the Harvard Club.
The event was hosted by some of the biggest names in investigative journalism, including executive producer Jeff Fager and correspondents Steve Kroft and Morley Safer, anchor Tom Brokaw as well as Oscar voters such as F. Murray Abraham and Bob Balaban.
Brokaw moderated a mid-meal Q&A with Keaton, McCarthy, co-writer Josh Singer and actors Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery and Brian d'Arcy James. Warner Bros. kicked off on Monday afternoon with back-to-back events. The first was an afternoon tea, held at the STK Midtown steakhouse, in celebration of Mad Max: Fury Road. Attended by director George Miller and supporting actor Nicholas Hoult on hand did a Q&A.
Later, the studio counter-programmed the NYFCC Awards with a dinner celebrating Creed at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant, attended by supporting actor Sylvester Stallone, director Ryan Coogler, producer Irwin Winkler and supporting actress Tessa Thompson, who sat for a Q&A with Gayle King.
Tuesday brought more events with Weinstein Co. brunch at The Monkey Bar hosted by Tarantino pals Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu, for The Hateful Eight. During the event lead actor Jackson, supporting actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and supporting actor Walton Goggins sat for a Q&A.
A Paramount luncheon on the same day held at The Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center for The Big Short, during which co-writer/director Adam McKay, co-writer Charles Randolph and producers Dede Garner and Jeremy Kleiner held a Q&A session.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual luncheon at Scarpetta, attended by Stewart, Coogler, Miller, McCarthy, Nemes, Haynes, Nagy, Lachman, Vachon, Where to Invade Next director Michael Moore, Heart of a Dog director Laurie Anderson, Meru co-director Jimmy Chin, Son of Saul lead actor Geza Rohrig, Sicario director Denis Villeneuve, Amy director Asif Kapadia, Room director Lenny Abrahamson and The Martian's director Ridley Scott, lead actor Matt Damon and screenwriter Drew Goddard, among others.
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The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. PT at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.