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The 78 year old New York Film Critics Circle were the first critics group of the season to chime in with their yearly winners.  The information was released on Twitter and throughout the blogosphere during approximately a 5-hour long session as each winner was announced as they won.  Best Pictures frontrunners 12 Years A Slave and Gravity failed to make an opening blow on their competition outside of 12 Years A Slave‘s Best Director win for Steve McQueen.  No, the big winner of the first Best Picture critics award of the year goes to David O. Russell’s con man caper American Hustle, which also took home the Screenplay and Supporting Actress awards.  Will this be a trend early in the season ala last year’s Zero Dark Thirty or will this just be a flash in the pan for the crime drama?  Most pundits thought that McQueen’s biographical slave drama would take the critics by storm, but, after a loss here and at the Gotham Awards last night, it looks like the season may be less predictable than we thought.

Best Picture: American Hustle

Russell’s film makes a huge mark on the race even thought it has not been released yet or reviewed by the critical community at large.  Does the team for 12 Years A Slave have a reason to be worried or are the critics just trying to spread the wealth before heaving the awards on the film?

Best Director: Steve McQueen- 12 Years a Slave

The only showing for 12 Years A Slave today, but it’s an important award that nobody is going to argue with.  McQueen proved that he was a visual master on both Hunger and Shame and he continues his success with this heartrending film that shows he has not lost his cinematic eye even if the film is more conventional than his previous efforts.

Best Actor: Robert Redford- All is Lost

Robert Redford starts the race with a win here and this will certainly not be the last in the plethora of awardage he will receive this year, even if I think the film is more of a showcase for the director J.C. Chandor than it is for Redford.

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasmine 

This should be the first in a long line of Best Actress prizes that Blanchett will win this season.  The performance is an absolute powerhouse and outshines anything else that I’ve seen this season.

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto- Dallas Buyer’s Club

Jared Leto takes home his first prize here.  I think that he will score a few more throughout the season, but I don’t think this will translate into a win once Golden Globes, SAG, and the Oscars come around.  While the performance is very good, I don’t think he had that bit of oomph to really make this something special.  Also, the Oscars usually vie for older actors or villains in this category.

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle

Jennifer Lawrence wins here over the current Oscar favorite Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years A Slave.  After winning last year for Best Actress, I don’t think Lawrence can carry this to another major award this year.  But the world sure does love her..

Best Screenplay: American Hustle

From what I am told, the script is flashy and fun, but lacks that sense of importance.  Especially considering this award encompasses both Original and Adapted screenplays, it is hard to think that this film beat 12 Years A Slave or the Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis.

Best Foreign FilmBlue is the Warmest Color

No surprise here.  The film seems destined to win all of the Foreign Film awards of the season, up until the Oscars where it is not eligible because France did not submit it for consideration.

Best Animated Film: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises

Miyazaki wins his third award in this category after 2002’s Spirited Away and 2005’s Howl’s Moving Castle for what is being called his final film.  Will his reputation lead him to a win at the Oscars or will there be too much of a challenge from Disney’s princess musical Frozen?

Best Non Fiction Film: Stories We Tell

Sarah Polly, actress and director of Away From Her, takes the award here beating out The Act of Killing, 20 Feet From Stardom, and Blackfish.

Best First Film: Fruitvale Station

Yet again, no surprise here.  This will be the first of many for Ryan Coogler.

Best Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel- Inside Llewyn Davis

This is somewhat of a surprise considering everyone feels that Gravity will sweep this category throughout the season.  The film was very beautiful, but I’m still skeptical of films that are mostly CGI winning over more traditional work.  Regardless, the Coen’s film gets a boost here even though I thought the New York critics may latch onto the film since revolves around the city’s music scene in the 1960’s.

Best Special Award: Frederick Wiseman, documentary filmmaker since 1967’s The Titicut Follies and this year’s acclaimed film At Berkeley.

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