Awards season is heating up and a handful of main best picture Oscar contenders is emerging ahead of the pack. After a round of critics awards, and with the Golden Globe nominations ready to be handed out, the favorites have appeared to be Moonlight and Manchester By the Sea, with La La Land lurking in the wings.
One big signpost on the way to the Academy Awards is the National Society of Film Critics Awards, which were handed out on January 7. Now that the NSFC has weighed in, a new best picture favorite appears to have emerged.
As Variety reports, the National Society of Film Critics on Saturday named the coming-of-age film Moonlight their best picture of 2016. Manchester By the Sea and La La Land were named runners-up. Moonlight also snagged awards for best-supporting actor (Mahershala Ali), best director (Barry Jenkins) and best cinematography (James Laxton).
Moonlight has built up significant momentum this awards season, garnering critics awards for best picture from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle. Moonlight is up for best drama at the Golden Globes tonight and if it should win that trophy it will take on even greater momentum as the Academy Awards creep nearer.
A National Society of Film Critics best picture award by itself is not necessarily a great indicator that a movie should be considered a favorite for best picture. Last year the NSFC lined up with the Oscars, giving best picture to the investigative journalism drama Spotlight, but in recent years it’s often gone totally against the grain, lauding movies as diverse as Godard’s Goodbye to Language, the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis and Haneke’s Amour while spurning more popular favorites.
The fact that Moonlight had snagged so many critics awards already, and topped that off with the NSFC award, gives credence to the notion that it has surged ahead as a major contender this year. When the Golden Globes weigh in, we should know for certain whether Moonlight is the odds-on favorite for the Oscar or whether another film can wedge its way into the conversation. The Academy Award nominations are set to be announced Jan. 24, 2017. You can expect Moonlight to be among the contenders.