59259459It was the usual shenanigans last night at the 75th annual New York Film Critics Circle dinner. Untelevised, and loose, the NYFCC pretty much sucked the air out of tonight’s National Board of Review gala by honoring George Clooney and Meryl Streep, the putative Oscar winners this season.

Clooney, for his part, stole the show. First he had to give an award to director Wes Anderson for “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” He kind of wandered onto the stage at Crimson, a large restaurant nightclub on Broadway and 21st St., and gave a rambling little speech due to the solid part of dinner being delivered way later than the liquid part. He said, “I’m like Mariah Carey,’f’d-up right now,” which got a laugh considering Mariah’s similar speech last week in Palm Springs.

But Clooney was far from incoherent as he poked fun at Anderson’s typically laconic style. “Wes said he’d give the best speech in history,” Clooney announced, even better than Meryl Streep, then invoked an f -bomb to punctuate it. “Who says that to Meryl Streep?” Clooney wondered. Anderson responded by making understated remarks.

Later, when Christine Lahti was introducing Clooney for his own Best Actor award (in “Fox” and “Up in the Air“) she said she found over 11, 800,000 million entries. “Have you ever Googled yourself, George?” Lahti asked from the podium. “I Google myself every afternoon,” the actor shouted back. He came to the event with his gorgeous Italian girlfriend, Elisabetta Canalis, and mingled with everyone, not just Streep.

Clooney, in accepting his award, noted that it took two movies for him to win it. (He also reassured the audience “I’m not drunk anymore.”) He thanked Jeremy Renner for making only one movie. And chided famed movie critic Rex Reed, who, Clooney said, usually thought he “Sucked” in his films. “This is the first film that your colleague Rex Reed hasn’t said that I sucked in. I mean, you could look it up…Now he’s starting to soften in his old age. I want you to know this, Rex. I will not sleep, I will not rest ‘ at my villa in Italy, in Lake Como, Italy ‘ until you’re happy!”

It was an odd night for the NYFCC ‘ and this should be noted for future events ‘ because Best Supporting Actress Mo’Nique didn’t show up. No one from “Precious” came to the ceremony, so the group’s chief, Armond White, announced the award and moved on. He said, tersely, “The award is hers.”

Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, on his way to an Oscar also, was present and grateful. He talked about his early days as an actor in New York, and then thanked “Inglourious Basterds” director Quentin Tarantino for making his dreams come true. “Along came the master distiller of evaporating actors’ dreams,” he said.

Also on hand were actress Amy Ryan, who presented to Waltz, James Gandolfini, who accepted the screenplay award for the movie “In the Loop,” “Basterds” actor Michael Fassbender (on the verge of being a big, big deal) and Lynn Redgrave, who complained during her introduction of Streep about the poor lighting in the room.

But the real stars of the night were the gang from “The Hurt Locker,” which won Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow, and Best Feature. “The Hurt Locker” comes out this week on DVD after making only $14 million at the boxoffice. The hope is the DVD audience will swarm to it. They sure should. Actors Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie were both there, but only Renner is making the trip West this weekend for all the awards shows. Mackie is stuck in New York rehearsing a new Broadway play with Christopher Walken.

The New York Film Critics Circle also gave a lifetime achievement award to critic Andrew Sarris, who’s 81 and has influenced several generations of writers. Sarris promised to keep teaching and working until he’s 95. I believe him!

What do you think?