January and February belong to the big, bland awards behemoths, like the Golden Globes and the Oscars. December belongs to tiny critics groups. The day after the National Board of Review went and (rightly) called the high-octane “Mad Max: Fury Road” the best film of 2015, the New York Film Critics Circle went with a slightly more conservative choice: Todd Haynes’ 1950s lesbian romance “Carol.”
The drama, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, only two more awards, the other being Haynes for director and Ed Lachmann’s beautifully non-retro cinematography. The accolades spread wide, and stayed clear of unworthy Oscar bait like “The Danish Girl” (or onetime — and horrible — awards lock “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”). Saoirse Ronan added another award to her “Brooklyn” trophy bag, while Michael Keaton nabbed Best Actor for “Spotlight,” which pretty much means the onetime Johnny Dangerously is back in action.
You know those claims that Kristen Stewart can’t act? Well, suck on this: Not only did KStew become the first American to ever win the Cesar — the French Oscar — for Best Supporting Actress for “Clouds of Sils Maria,” but she won another one here too. Mark Rylance, a Shakespearean titan (and Oxfordian) who’s often (but not always) shied away from movies, got a supporting award for his cagey, aloof turn in Steven Spielberg’s “Bride of Spies.”
Elsewhere, Pixar’s devastating “Inside Out” won Animated Film and Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu” took home Best Foreign Language Film. (Alas, it was already nominated for last year’s Oscars, so .) “In Jackson Heights,” the 40th-or-so film from pioneering non-fiction legend Frederick Wiseman, was named Best Documentary, a day after it didn’t make the shortlist of Oscar docs, because AMPAS has no idea who Frederick Wiseman even is.
But what does this mean for the rest of awards season? Shrug.
The full list below: