The New York Film Critics Circle Awards were announced yesterday, naming New Lines The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Best Picture. And while that win was a major coup for effects films in a year ripe with critically acclaimed indies, the biggest upset was Sony Pictures Classics The Triplets of Belleville trumping Disney and Pixars Oscar frontrunner Finding Nemo for Best Animated Film.
While the various critics awards are collectively a good barometer for how Academy members will vote, New York film critics tend to gravitate more to arthouse fare, choosing Richard Linklaters Waking Life over Oscar winner Shrek in 2001 and Miyazakis Spirited Away over major studio product in 2002. But with Return of the King beating out such lauded independent works as Lost in Translation, In America and American Splendor, it seems Belleville cant be so easily written off as the "artsy-fartsy" choice.
The New York Film Critics Circle also named Bill Murray Best Actor for his work in Sofia Coppolas (Best Director) Lost in Translation, and Hope Davis Best Actress for HBO Films/Fine Line Features American Splendor.
Splendor, a biopic chronicling the life of underground cartoonist Harvey Pekar, garnered a Best First Film win for directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.
A full list of New York Critics Circle Award winners can be found at http://www.nyfcc.com/awards.html.
The Los Angeles Critics Association has been more on track with Oscar, picking both Shrek and Spirited Away in their respective years. The west coasters will make their picks at a yet-to-be-determined date.