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New York Film Critics Awards: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Wins Best Film, Christopher Nolan Takes Director (Full List)

The New York Film Critics Circle has significantly boosted the Oscar prospects for Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” by anointing the Western epic best film and naming Lily Gladstone best actress.

The film, distributed by Apple Original Films in partnership with Paramount Pictures (overseeing theatrical distribution), marks the streaming service’s inaugural win from the NYFCC.

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NYFCC’s winner for best film has typically had a strong correlation with the Academy Awards’ best picture prize. Since the expansion to 10 nominees in 2009, only “Carol” (2015) and “First Cow” (2020) have missed out on a best picture nom. The latter was the first film in the organization’s long history to fail to garner a single Oscar nom. Since 1935, NYFCC and the Academy have matched 43% of the time.

Scorsese claimed his third top prize from the NYFCC, following “Goodfellas” (1990) and “The Irishman” (2019). His achievement places him among a select few directors; only William Wyler and Fred Zinnemann have previously notched three best film wins. Gladstone’s portrayal of Mollie Burkhart in “Killers” earned her the first major critics award for the role, following her win for best lead performance in the indie flick “The Unknown Country” at the Gotham Awards. Variety exclusively revealed Gladstone’s decision to campaign for the lead actress category, diverging from earlier speculation that she’d gun for supporting actress. This move sparked concerns akin to Michelle Williams’ campaign shift last year for “The Fabelmans.” But despite initial debates regarding her nomination alignment for best actress versus supporting, Gladstone has seemingly allayed those concerns (for now).

This move notably impacted supporting contender Da’Vine Joy Randolph, acclaimed for her standout performance in “The Holdovers” as Mary Lamb, a cafeteria worker mourning the loss of her son. She secured the supporting actress prize for her work in the Focus Features dramedy, potentially signaling a promising awards journey ahead as a formidable contender against “Oppenheimer” star Emily Blunt.

Speaking of “Oppenheimer,” the film received two significant accolades — cinematography and best director. Christopher Nolan now emerges as a formidable contender for best director, a sentiment echoed by fans and industry professionals anticipating his overdue recognition by the Academy. Recent history indicates that two out of the last three NYFCC winners — Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” (2020) and Jane Campion for “The Power of the Dog” (2021) — went on to win Oscars. Nolan has only scored one director nomination at the Academy Awards for “Dunkirk” (2017).

Duplicating his Gotham win, “May December” breakout star Charles Melton triumphed for his role as Joe, winning supporting actor, with the film also securing best screenplay for newcomer Samy Burch. These victories significantly bolster the Todd Haynes movie’s presence as it vies for original screenplay and best picture nominations.

In an unexpected turn, Franz Rogowski emerged as the surprise winner for best actor for his performance in Mubi’s indie drama “Passages,” triumphing over more established names. The NYFCC often leans toward unconventional performances, as seen in past winners like Timothy Spall in “Mr. Turner” (2014). It’s worth noting that three of the last five winners in this category received Oscar nominations, hinting at Rogowski’s Academy Awards potential.

Three of the four NYFCC acting winners of last year went on to be nominated at the Oscars: Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Cate Blanchett (“Tár”) and eventual supporting actor winner Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”). Only Keke Palmer, who landed a surprise supporting actress win for “Nope,” missed out on Academy recognition.

“The Boy and the Heron,” GKids’ new animated movie and Hayao Miyazaki’s first in a decade, clinched the animated film category. Regional critics will likely follow suit before mainstream groups pivot toward acknowledging the popular and acclaimed “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”

Other films recognized include A24’s “Past Lives,” which earned Celine Song the first film award, and Zipporah Films’ four-hour Frederick Wiseman documentary “Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros” in the non-fiction film category.

Neon’s “Anatomy of a Fall” secured another international feature prize after not being chosen by France as its Academy Awards submission. Justine Triet’s courtroom drama is poised to sweep through foreign language prizes this season, leaving the ultimate winner of that category unanswered until Oscar night.

Notable shutouts and omissions include Netflix’s main pony “Maestro” from writer, director, producer and star Bradley Cooper, which failed to pick up any mentions. “Oppenheimer’s” summer frenemy, “Barbie” from Greta Gerwig, also went home without a trophy.

Celebrating its 89th year, the NYFCC comprises more than 50 journalists from publications such as Variety.

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.

View the full NYFCC winners list below:

Best Film: “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)

Best Director: Christopher Nolan, “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)

Best Actor: Franz Rogowski, “Passages” (Mubi)

Best Actress: Lily Gladstone, “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)

Best Supporting Actor: Charles Melton, “May December” (Netflix)

Best Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Holdovers” (Focus Features)

Best Screenplay: “May December” (Netflix) — Samy Burch, Alex Mechanik

Best Animated Film: “The Boy and the Heron” (GKids)

Best Cinematography: “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) — Hoyte van Hoytema

Best First Film: “Past Lives” (A24) — dir. Celine Song

Best International: “Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon) — dir. Justine Triet

Best Non-Fiction Film: “Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros” (Zipporah Films) — dir. Frederick Wiseman

Special mention: The NYFCC awarded cash prizes to two regional students — Mick Gaw (New York University, undergraduate) and Katherine Prior (Brooklyn College, graduate) — focusing on film criticism and journalism.

Special Award: Karen Cooper for five decades of creative leadership as director of Film Forum.

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