‘The Irishman’ won Best Picture, but it was ‘Parasite’ that got everyone on their feet.
The New York Film Critics Circle awarded Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” its Best Picture award, but it didn’t take much effort to realize that “Parasite” was the real king of the ceremony. After being the weekend hit at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles, Bong Joon Ho and his “Parasite” team (including actor Song Kang-ho) proved their overwhelming popularity is bicoastal by holding court at the NYFCC awards. . Bong posed for photos with Best Screenplay winner Quentin Tarantino, was nominated by the Safdie brothers in their Best Director speech (Bong enthusiastically gave them a thumbs up from his dinner table), and received the first big standing ovation from the ceremony while accepting the Best Foreign Language Film Award for “Parasite” (Ben Stiller presented the award to Bong and joked that the awards season dominance of “Parasite” would extend to the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards).
“I love ‘Parasite’ winning Best Foreign Language Film because it overcame language barriers,” Bong said, referring to the film’s more than $100 million worldwide gross. Bong said it was surreal to accept an award in front of Martin Scorsese at the NYFCC, as he still remembers Scorsese winning the NYFCC Best Picture and Best Director awards in 1991 with “Goodfellas.” Bong was also stunned by Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci and provided one of the comedic highlights of the ceremony by quoting the famous “did you fuck my wife?” scene from “Raging Bull”. Bong even praised the venue, Tao Downtown, as it was the first night of this long awards season that he had been able to eat Asian food. The more Bong gets in front of a mic before the Oscars, the more he’ll find himself gaining legions of fans.
Pesci’s appearance at the NYFCC awards was a rare appearance for the 76-year-old actor who came out of retirement to reunite with Scorsese for “The Irishman.” The actor received a massive ovation for rivaling Bong when he took the stage to receive the Best Supporting Actor award. Pesci brought Scorsese and De Niro to the podium for support.
“I asked Martin and Bob to come with me because I really suck at it,” Pesci said of accepting the awards. “I don’t do it right. Anyone who works on these films knows that you can’t do it alone. Do you mean real support? I had Bob. I had a great script and a great cast. And to top it off, Marty tells me all the things to do, so I told him to help me accept this award.
Pesci passed the baton to Scorsese and De Niro as he fumbled for more words to express his gratitude. “He’s the one saying thank you,” De Niro added with a laugh. Pesci is expected to earn a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and receive awards season royalty.
Tarantino has bounced back after a polarizing Golden Globes speech left some moviegoers with a bad taste in their mouths (IndieWire’s Anne Thompson wrote that the only weakness facing ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ this awards season is “I don’t have anyone to talk to” about Tarantino (thank you but me’ arrogance). It helped the NYFCC convince Tarantino’s “Hollywood” star and recent Golden Globe winner Brad Pitt to present him with the Best Screenplay award.
“[Tarantino] is the only guy who needs cocaine to stop talking,” Pitt said of his director, who he first worked with on “Inglourious Basterds.” “He writes by hand, single-spaced on kraft paper pads. He calls his pen an antenna to God. You know when you go out in public and make a fool of yourself and go home hoping for the best you could have said? Tarantino’s characters don’t suffer from it. There is music in his way of writing. I call it Iambic Quent-amètre.
Tarantino’s acceptance speech was dedicated to his relationship with film critics, which was appropriate given the nature of the ceremony. The director has revealed that the only movie review he has ever cut out and saved is the title of Andrew Sarris’ “Kill Bill” review (“Tarantino Thins Matrix, Says Andrew Sarris”), which remains on the fridge of Tarantino to date. Tarantino said he doesn’t read Rotten Tomatoes but gets a stack of paper reviews that he goes through for each movie. The filmmaker got plenty of laughs for calling out one of his toughest critics, NYFCC member Peter Rainer.
“Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor writer, you’ve never given me a positive review in 30 years,” Tarantino said. “Not to make you feel guilty, but I read you every weekend when you were writing for the Herald Examiner in Los Angeles. From 15 years old! Not only did I read you, but I still have those Herald Examiner reviews in my goddamn desk. I still have your review of ‘Raging Bull’! I say it like that.”
Tarantino also hailed Pauline Kael, whom he calls “the woman who articulated my cinematic aesthetic in a way no one had before.” Kael was a member of the NYFCC and is Tarantino’s favorite film critic of all time alongside Sarris.
“It takes a great critic to align their aesthetic in a way that they can describe it. I remember the review [Pauline] wrote that it made me that was for Godard’s ‘Band of Outsiders,'” Tarantino said. of the poetry they read between the lines. When I read this review I said, “Holy shit, this is what I want to do”. That’s all I want to do. This is my aesthetic broken down into a piece of fortune cookie paper. This is what I want to accomplish in this world.
Tarantino wasn’t the only one to admit he paid attention to film critics. Best Supporting Actress winner Laura Dern (awarded for ‘Marriage Story’ and ‘Little Women’) and Best Director co-winner Josh Safdie said they always read their reviews, for better and for better. the worst. Dern said positive reviews early in her career validated her choice to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become an actress. Safdie had a more traumatic experience with early critics after one critic said he’d rather be run over by a train and killed than watch a Safdie movie.
Other NYFCC awards highlights include Best Actor winner Antonio Banderas, who remains a dark horse in the Oscar race despite universal recognition and an award at Cannes for his performance in “Pain and Glory.” Banderas starred in ‘A Chorus Line’ in Spain, which made it difficult for him to campaign as aggressively as contenders like Adam Driver and Joaquin Phoenix. Banderas, who left for Spain in the morning, won over the crowd by being honest: “I’m tired of campaigning,” he said. “I am not a politician. I’m an actor!”
Other NYFCC winners included Best Actress Lupita Nyong’o for “Us,” Best First Feature winner Mati Diop for “Atlantics,” and “Honeyland” duo Tamara Kotevska and Ljubo Stefanov for Best Documentary. Click here to see all of the 2019 NYFCC winners.