Audrey J. Bernard

*The New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) hosted its 75th anniversary awards on Monday, January 11, 2010 at the trendy nightspot Crimson, 915 Broadway at 21st Street.  The star-studded event was attended by many celebrities from film, TV, stage and screen.

The elegant evening began with a cocktail party followed by a delectable dinner and a wonderful program chaired by Armond White, NYFCC chairman.  In his welcoming remarks White acknowledged the purpose of the Circle.

“To represent, as an impartial organized working unit, the profession of film criticism; to recognize the highest creative achievements in the field of motion pictures, and thereby to uphold the dignity and significance of film criticism,” he said.  “This celebration continues a great tradition that began in a drafty room of the Newspaper Guild on December 21, 1935.”

Chairman White brought the organization full circle in his ending remarks.  “We don’t presage the Oscars, we recognize art in a classical, laurel-leaf way.  For 75 years the Circle has proven that critics are not enemies of film culture.  We are not gatekeepers, but we keep the flame.”

NYFCCA-NYFCC Chairman Armond White, actor Anthony Mackie

During the stellar program guests dined on a scrumptious menu:  Organic Field Greens, Yellow and Red Tomatoes, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Buttermilk, Herb Dressing, Warm Blue Cheese and Onion Rye Crouton; Herbs de Provence Crusted Chicken, Mushroom Risotto and Lemon Asparagus; Herb Crusted Salmon; Asparagus Beurre Blanc, Saffron Basmati Rice, Seasonal Vegetables in Light Lemon-Butter Sauce; followed by the Chef’s selection of Petite Desserts, freshly brewed coffee and organic teas.

The assemblage of stars were a critic’s dream and the evening’s big winners are what dreams are made of.  The 2009 NYFCC award winners:  Best Picture/The Hurt Locker; Best Director/Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker); Best Actor/George Clooney (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Up in the Air; Best Actress/Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia); Best Supporting Actor/Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds); and Best Supporting Actress/Mo’Nique (Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire).

NYFCCA-Best Actor winner George Clooney with girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis

Also Best Foreign-Language Film/Summer Hours (director Olivier Assayas); Best Screenplay/In the Loop (screenwriters Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche); Best Non-Fiction Film/Of Time and the City; Best Cinematography/Christian Berger (The White Ribbon; Best First Film/Hunger (director Steve McQueen); Best Animated Film/Fantastic Mr. Fox.  The NYFCC’s special award was presented to Andrew Sarris in recognition of a long and distinguished career.

Some of the celebrities in attendance included Amy Ryan, James Gandolfini with wife Deborah Lin, Christoph Waltz, George Clooney with girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis, Christian Berger, Christine Lahti, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Wes Anderson, Michael Fassbender, Olivier Assayas, Lynn Redgrave, Kathryn Bigelow and James Toback.

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.