For the first time in modern memory, members of the New York Film Critics Circle will vote for their awards on a Wednesday instead of the usual Monday. This year balloting will occur on Dec. 10. Apparently, waiting until the following Monday, Dec. 15, would be too late and moving up to Dec. 8 too early.
Now the next question is: What will the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. do? To stay out in front of the Gothamites, they're going to have to convene on Dec. 7 if they want to stick with powwowing, as usual, on a Sunday. Too early? Last year LAFCA voted on Sunday, Dec. 9. NYFCC on Monday, the 10th. Voting dates in 2006: Dec 10 in L.A., Dec. 11 in N.Y. In both cases, the National Board of Review stayed out in front, as usual. However, in 2005, things got tricky. NBR planned to announce winners on Dec. 7, but missed the date and ended up unveiling its choices on Dec. 12, the exact same day as NYFCC. (LAFCA got out front on the 10th.)
Those snooty members of NYFCC insist they don't care a hoot what NBR does because it's not a critics' organization (call NBR an uppercrust People's Choice Award bestowed by a small group of New York lawyers, teachers, dentists, writers, PR folk), but, in 2005, NYFCC members halted their voting periodically throughout the day to find out if results of NBR were in yet, then read off the NBR winners during their meeting. Being snobs, they didn't want to pick the same stuff NBR did and probably would've changed their vote outcome just to be different, if necessary. But it wasn't. NBR chose "Good Night, and Good Luck" for best picture. NYFCC had no problem copying what their counterpart critics in L.A. picked two days earlier: "Brokeback Mountain."
This year NBR plans to trumpet choices even earlier: Dec. 4. Can members manage to see all major movie contenders in time? Sometimes its dogged insistence upon being first out of the derby gate carries a high price. They missed "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" in 2003 and had to leave it off its award list, which was especially embarrassing because it went on to tie the Oscar record for most wins (11) set by "Ben-Hur" and "Titanic." But that also happened way back in 1939 with "Gone With the Wind." Talk about oversights! This year it's possible they could miss "Gran Torino," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" or "The Reader."
This year the National Board of Review will celebrate its 100th anniversary with its award bash on Jan. 14, 2009, at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York.
Illustration by Ty Wilson