Movie awards season is officially in full swing with the announcement of several groups’ choices this week.
The Gotham Awards were held Monday in New York City (they’re sort of the East Coast version of the Indie Spirit Awards).
“Moonlight,” opening Friday, Dec. 2, in Wichita, won much love from the group with four awards: best feature, screenplay and the audience award. It also won a special award for ensemble performance. The film follows a gay youngster growing up in a drug-ridden Miami neighborhood, and should be an awards season mainstay.
Acting honors went to Casey Affleck (for “Manchester by the Sea”) and Isabelle Huppert (for “Elle”), igniting possible paths to Oscar nominations.
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Meanwhile, the National Board of Review this week named “Manchester by the Sea” its best film.
“Moonlight’s” Barry Jenkins won best director, and Naomi Harris won best supporting actress.
Affleck again was named best actor, while Amy Adams was named best actress for her sublime work in the aliens-come-to-Earth drama “Arrival.”
Supporting actor went to Jeff Bridges as a weary Texas Ranger in the bank-robbing brothers tale “Hell or High Water.”
The board also released its annual list of the 10 best films of the year: “Arrival,” pacifist war hero biopic “Hacksaw Ridge,” Coen brothers comedy “Hail, Caesar!,” “Hell or High Water,” African-American women at NASA drama “Hidden Figures,” modern Hollywood musical “La La Land,” “Moonlight,” Boston marathon bombing drama “Patriots Day,” priests in Japan epic “Silence” and “Miracle on the Hudson” portrait “Sully.”
Meanwhile, “La La Land” did extremely well later in the week. On Thursday, it was named best film by the New York Critics Circle awards.
Affleck and Huppert were again given lead acting honors, with Mahershala Ali winning best supporting actor for “Moonlight” and Michelle Williams getting best supporting actress for “Manchester by the Sea.”
Jenkins again was named best director for “Moonlight.”
Also on Thursday, “La La Land” led the 22nd annual Critics Choice Awards nominations, with 12. “Arrival” and “Moonlight” followed with 10 each. “Manchester by the Sea” followed with eight.
Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” did surprisingly well with seven noms, including best picture and Gibson for best director. Some industry insiders say his awards chances are slim since many still cannot forgive his hateful antics in the past. Perhaps this is a comeback after all.
The Critics Choice Awards winners will be announced Dec. 11 in a live broadcast on A&E. Actor T.J. Miller (HBO’s “Silicon Valley”) will be the host.
It’s still very early in awards season, and the Oscars are months away, so settle in. But we’re definitely already seeing some patterns forming.
“Manchester by the Sea” and “La La Land” are tentatively slated to open in Wichita later this month or in early January.
Ready for “Rogue” – The Force is still definitely strong with “Star Wars” fans. Anticipation is extremely high for the upcoming “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the first of many “Star Wars” spin-offs to come (a Han Solo backstory film among them).
“Rogue” is a prequel to the original “Star Wars” trilogy, and follows a group of rebels as they try to steal plans for the Death Star.
Variety reports that “Rogue” had the second highest first day of pre-sales in domestic box office history. The current record-holder for first day pre-sales is, fittingly, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which debuted last year with nearly $248 million. That can buy a lot of power converters!
“Rogue One” is on track to open with $130 million worth of tickets already sold when it debuts on Dec. 16. The film stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn and Forest Whitaker. Directing is Gareth Edwards (who helmed the 2014 “Godzilla” reboot).