New York Film Critics Circle Names ‘First Cow’ Best Film of 2020


On Friday, the New York Film Critics Circle voted Kelly Reichardt’s fable western “First Cow” the best film of 2020, while paying special honors to Spike Lee and arthouse distributor Kino Lorber for their roles in a cinematic year deeply marked by the pandemic.

Film critics, meeting virtually, awarded their first prize to “First Cow,” a delicate story of friendship and capitalism in the Oregon Territory in the mid-1800s. Reichardt’s film, released in theaters in March, just days before the nationwide COVID-19 forced closure of cinemas began, was not widely seen but remains one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. The Associated Press also named “First Cow” his No. 1 film.

Critics also awarded ‘Borat Later Movie Film’ co-star Maria Bakalova for Best Supporting Actress and Chadwick Boseman for Best Supporting Actor for his latest performance in the adaptation. August Wilson’s “My Rainey’s Black Bottom”. Boseman died in August.

Best Actor went to Delroy Lindo for his performance as a Vietnam War veteran in Spike Lee’s “Da Five Bloods.” Best Actress went to Sidney Flanigan who plays a teenager from Pennsylvania who travels to New York for an abortion in “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.” Eliza Hittman, who wrote and directed ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always,’ won Best Screenplay. Chloe Zhao, the filmmaker of “Nomadland”, won the award for best director.

Spike Lee released two feature films in 2020 – ‘Da Five Bloods’ and ‘David Byrne’s American Utopia’ – but he received a special award for a three-minute short he posted on Instagram: “New York, New York,” a documentary tribute to his hometown, made during the first wave of the pandemic.

The group’s other special citation went to Kino Lorber for creating virtual cinema service Kino Marquee, which shares profits with independent cinemas shut down by COVID-19. Critics pointedly said the honor was for a service “designed to help sustain movie theaters, not destroy them.”

The New York Film Critics Circle Awards are usually part of a flurry of honors from critics’ groups that can sometimes influence awards season. Such awards would usually be a drumbeat at this time of year, but not much is normal in this year’s awards season. The Oscars and Golden Globes, along with many other award shows, have been postponed for about two months.

Other NYFCC picks include: “Time” for Best Non-Fiction Film, “Bacurau” for Best Foreign Language Film, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” for Best Debut Film, “Wolfwalkers” for Best Animated Feature and the five-film anthology “Small Axe” for Best Cinematography.

The Chicago Film Critics Association. announced the nominations for its annual awards on Friday. “Nomadland” topped with seven nominations; Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Da 5 Bloods’, ‘First Cow’ and ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ each garnered six nominations; David Fincher’s “Mank” and Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman” were each recognized with five. “Nomadland,” “Da 5 Bloods,” “First Cow,” “Promising Young Woman,” and Steve McQueen’s “Lovers Rock” (part of his “Small Axe” anthology) are the Best Picture nominees.

Boseman was nominated for both Best Actor for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Best Supporting Actor for “Da 5 Bloods.” The prizes will be awarded at a virtual event on December 21.

Times staff contributed to this report


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