The Iras, A shameful exercise and thank goodness for that.

For the past thirty years an intrepid band of cinematic explorers have ventured where only the brave and foolhardy go. They call themselves the New York Independent Film Critics Circle, although those who know and fear them call them many other things that good manners prevent me from repeating.
Cue dramatic music here:
I know. I am one of them. (A drumroll please.)
My name is Saturday. I carry a badge.
I was working the Ira-watch out of Burglary and Mopery when the phone rang.

Okay, got that out of my system.
So this gang of lunatics, one of them me, have been gathering together since 1975 -- engendering a lengthy debate over whether this is our 30th anniversary or our 31st awards; when did the Millennium begin, chumps? -- and voting our own film awards, with an eye towards defying the popular taste and that of our better-known colleagues in other more publicized critics groups.
The results have been nicely marinated in beer and wine and so we have continued.

For a more balanced view of our gathering from last night, I urge you to read Michael Giltz's blog, Popsurfing; just click the link on the right. For those of you too lazy to bother, here are the results of the voting:

Best Picture: Mysterious Skin
Best Director: Gregg Araki
Best Actor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin)
Best Actress: Maria Bello (A History of Violence)
Best Supporting Actor: Frank Langella (Good Night and Good Luck) rescinded
Clifton Collins, Jr. (Capote) rescinded
Paddy Considine (My Summer of Love)
Best Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener (Capote, The 40-year-old Virgin, The Interpreter, The Ballad of Jack and Rose)
Best Screenplay: Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin)
Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit (Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana)
Best Production Design: William Chang Suk Ping (2046, first segment of Eros)
Best Music: Howard Shore (A History of Violence)
Best Costumes: William Chang Suk Ping (2046, first segment of Eros)
Sominex: Saraband
Dramamine: Crash
Mechanical Actor: Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds)
Mechanical Actress: Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds, Hide and Seek and other crap too numerous to mention)

I could explain the byzantine rules under which a majority of the voters are able to rescind an award (as happened in the supporting actor category) but if I did, I'd have to kill all of you. Also, as is probably apparent, we give awards for a year's body of work; at least that's what it says here, although I suspect that none of us saw all of Dakota Fanning's films this year (you couldn't pay me to sit through yet another "uplifting" sports movie like Dreamer).

Suffice it to say, I'm proud that, as is frequently the case, we made the off-beat, edgy choice that none of the other critics groups would go for. After all, we are the folks who gave best picture to such oddly assorted films as Decasia, Werkmeister Harmonies, Kinsey and L'Humanite, just to name a few recent proud moments.

And while we're wrapping up the year, I always base my ten-best list on the releases I saw up to and including the day of the Iras, with the result that I am probably the last human on earth to put up a list each year. Here, based on 117 films released in 2005 (including a few things that didn't get what you would consider a bona fide theatrical release, but that's a subject for another time), is my ten-best list for the year, uh, recently completed.

1. Kings and Queen -- Arnaud Desplechin
2. 2046 -- Wong Kar-Wai
3. A History of Violence -- David Cronenberg
4. Broken Flowers -- Jim Jarmusch
5. The White Diamond -- Werner Herzog
6. Head-On -- Fatih Akin
7. Grizzly Man -- Werner Herzog
8. The World -- Jia Zhangke
9. Or (My Treasure) -- Keren Yedaya
10. Mysterious Skin -- Gregg Araki

Honorable Mention:
Odessa . . . Odessa! (Michale Boganim) Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul), George Romero's Land of the Dead (George Romero), My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski), Chain (Jem Cohen), L'Intrus (Claire Denis), Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July), Good Morning, Night (Marco Bellocchio), My Mother's Smile (Marco Bellocchio), Paradise Now (Hany Abu-Assad), CineVardaPhoto (Agnes Varda), Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee), Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordano), Another Road Home (Dani Elon), Three Rooms of Melancholy (Pirjo Honkasalo), Wall (Simone Bitton), Last Days (Gus van Sant), Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Nick Park and Steve Box).

Despite the bleating of the "cinema is dead" naysayers, a pretty damned good year on the whole. Especially if you consider that the average of the directors on my ten best list is probably below 50. (NB: The average age of the nine filmmakers on the list is almost exactly 46.)

Tomorrow, I'll start filling you in on the annual Rendezvous With French Cinema at Lincoln Center.


Ed Sikov said…
You forgot to mention my Astroglide Award nomination for Alessandro Nivola.
George Robinson said…
Oh, I think that received enough publicity on Michael's website and in the various personal ads you are placing around Los Angeles and points west.