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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

New York Film Critics Circle is now FIRST!

So, the New York Film Critics Circle announced today that it’s moving up its voting to November 28, beating out the New York Board of Review. Huzzah. What’s the point of this, exactly? As David pointed out in his Hot Blog post about this, it’s about being FIRST! and nothing more. It reduces the legitimacy and relevance of the NYFCC to the desire to be seen as FIRST! to the discussion about something most everyone on the writing side of our industry likes to pretend doesn’t matter. You want to set a group of film journalists at each others’ throats in a hurry? Start speculating about awards season, then step back out of the fray and watch in amusement as pundits pontificate and skeptics get their shorts in a bunch about criticism versus Oscars. It’s almost as fun as starting a debate about the merits of junkets, and where we draw the line between journalism and publicity.

The reality is that most of us do speculate, or at least think about awards season, whether we write about it or Guru about it or what have you, or whether we don’t. Every other conversation in lines and at late-hour drinking binges at the bars between the Lightbox and Scotiabank at Toronto this year was about whether this or that film’s TIFF reception boded well — or ill — for awards season hopes. Same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Whether the NYFCC votes before or after the Board of Review means, really, bupkis, other than possibly screwing over the few films who actually prefer to wait to screen their films in December. You know, the last month of the year for which NYFCC is supposedly voting on their awards. And perhaps it will force some of those distributors to decide if they’ll screen earlier to accommodate NYFCC or not, so that the NYFCC can see them FIRST! and thereby consider them in their voting. Or not.

Either way, really, does it matter? If a couple of distributors actually chose to say, sorry, we’re not changing our schedule because you’ve decided to change yours, what’s the worst that could happen? Is a truly legitimate awards contender likely to get cut from the pack just because the NYFCC didn’t see it in time to vote for it? If it’s really all that and a bag of chips, I don’t think so. The other groups will weigh in, in their time, the conversation will still happen, the Oscars will still go on. It’s like a pack of third graders pushing and shoving to be first in line to get the same cafeteria lunch every kid in line will end up with anyhow.

It’s all just so tiresome, this relentless desire of the internet age to be FIRST! and to say TOLDJA! and whatnot, even when the TOLDJAs are largely press releases that someone got an hour ahead of the pack, or the FIRST! is little more than a bid to be the first to officially say “Hey, these are the films we liked!” in a discussion that started at Toronto and will go on until Oscar night. Yawn.

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One Response to “New York Film Critics Circle is now FIRST!”

  1. Gary says:

    Exactly right: NYFCC, way to make yourselves look silly. “We’re so prestigious, that we uh uh should be first!” Dude, it’s the other way around.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon