‘First Cow’ wins Florida Film Critics Circle’s top prize

Following the lead of many of our fellow orgs, Florida Film Critics Circle, of which I’ve been a member since 2015, rallied around First Cow, Kelly Reichardt’s adaptation of Jonathan Raymond’s novel The Half Life starring John Magaro, Orion Lee, and Toby Jones (Magaro was also runner-up for Best Actor). The choice pleases me. So would’ve Nomadland, which earned Chloé Zhao a Best Director award and Best Actress for Frances McDormand as a woman whose wanderlust takes her into the furthest reaches of the American West.

What chilled me was how close the refried Sorkinisms of The Trial of the Chicago 7 got to earning the top prizes. Hermetic and self-satisfied, Chicago 7 treats historical events as excuses for actorly posturing. Nothing is at stake — unlike, say, in Mangrove, the first chapter in Steve McQueen’s mini-series: the story of the 1971 trial of the Mangrove Nine, accused of inciting a riot. That picture had ambience, zeal, and a sense of something at stake for these Black lives. And I don’t comprehend enthusiasm for the etiolated biopic Mank. 

Yet I don’t see critics groups fronting for Los Fuertes, a cute Chilean queer drama, and Minari‘s appearance also surprised me.

Here’s my ballot. My own top twenty, as usual, won’t be ready until January — I use the holiday break to catch up.

Get to watching.

BEST PICTURE

First Cow
Runner up: Nomadland/Trial of the Chicago 7/Minari

BEST ACTOR
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Runner up: John Magaro, First Cow

BEST ACTRESS
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Runners up: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom/Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Runner up: Brian Dennehy; Driveways

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Runner up: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

BEST ENSEMBLE
Mangrove
Runner up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST DIRECTOR
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Runner up: Kelly Reichardt, First Cow/Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Runner up: Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY/
Charlie Kaufman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Runners up: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland/ Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

BEST CINEMATOGRPHY
Erik Messerschmidt, Mank
Runner up: Shabier Kirchner, Lovers Rock

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Murray Barber, Possessor
Runner up: Andrew Jackson, Tenet

BEST ART DIRECTION/PRODUCTION
Dan Webster, Mank
Runner up: Adam Marshall, Lovers Rock

SCORE
Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross/Jon Batiste, Soul
Runner up: Ludwig Göransson, Tenet

BEST DOCUMENTARY
You Don’t Nomi
Runner up: Dick Johnson is Dead

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Los Fuertes
Runner up: Minari

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Soul
Runner up: Wolfwalkers

BEST FIRST FILM
Promising Young Woman
Runner up: The Father

BREAKOUT AWARD
Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Runner up: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

THE GOLDEN ORANGE AWARD
ENZIAN Theater

5 thoughts on “‘First Cow’ wins Florida Film Critics Circle’s top prize

  1. Aah. The Enzian. Hard to believe that it took the cultural backwater of Central Florida that long to get an arts cinema. Pre-1985, there were a few stabs at a repertory theater of sorts, but none of them stuck. In college, pre-1985, I used to read the Village Voice weekly and long for hundreds of films a year that had a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to a screen near my eyes.So, hats off to The Enzian.

  2. It seems like a good list. And you’re one of the few American critics who pays attention to Pedro Costa, who is sort of a cult idol here. “Cavalho Dineiro” got lots of love at the most prestigious Independent Festival here; and all the trophies.
    I lost track with Reichardt. But at the same festival I remember seeing her debut, “Wendy & Lucy”, and liking it a lot. My boss at the Children Film festival I programmed at the time asked me how it was like, and my response went like: “Well, it’s a picture of declassed America; but imagine if “Lassie” was directed by Antonioni. Plus a young girl”. She laughed, of course. “But for adults”, I added.

      1. Thank you. The most baffling thing is that I was scouting films for the kid’s festival thinking -because the often insipid synopsis of the Festival’s Catalogue hinted at- this COULD fit in. “The adventures of the girl and her dog”.
        Luckily, I found a damn fine film for adults.

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