Just when it looked like the critics' awards portion of awards season had fallen into terminal lockstep with the steady march of the Oscar campaigns, here come the 2014 New York Film Critics Circle awards to disrupt that narrative—and a few others.
The 80-year-old New York institution gathered on Monday morning to vote on the year's best films. Its members emerged with Richard Linklater's Boyhood taking the top prize for Best Film, along with awards for Best Director (Linklater) and Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette). This, in and of itself, wasn't a huge leap for the NYFCC. Boyhood has been circling the Oscar conversation for months now, and while presumed contenders like Birdman and The Imitation Game have stepped up to challenge it, it remains one of the season's better bets.
But the New York Critics almost appeared determined to step outside of any kind of Oscar narrative with the rest of their awards. Best Actress went to Marion Cotillard, for her performances in both The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night, two festival-circuit hits that either hasn't made much of a splash publicly and hasn't opened at all yet, respectively. In choosing Cotillard, the NYFCC bypassed well-reviewed performances from Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, and Rosamund Pike, generally agreed to be the actresses most solidly in contention for the Best Actress Oscar. It's not unprecedented; Rachel Weisz won in 2012 for a performance in The Deep Blue Sea that lay on the outskirts of Oscar plausibility. But in general, the NYFCC has hewed to the Streeps and Mirrens and Blanchetts who didn't necessarily need a critics-award boost to aid their Oscar chances, but got one anyway.