“Not working is awful. At least if you’re a painter you can paint. But you can’t walk around the room acting. It’s obscene and embarrassing.” That’s what “Mr. Turner” star Timothy Spall said last night as he picked up his Best Actor Award from the New York Film Critics Circle. The annual dinner, at Tao in the Meatpacking District, was full of stars and bon mots and none of the craziness of last year from the peanut gallery.
A very well groomed and quieted Bill Murray sat through the whole dinner and ceremony, Jon Stewart made a surprise appearance, Marion Cotillard provided some real Hollywood glamour, and there were surprise speeches from folks like Kyra Sedgwick, Rose McGowan, John Lithgow, Bob Balaban and so on.
But it was the night of “Boyhood,” which won Best Feature, Best Director (Richard Linklater), Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette) and even a shout out from the lovely Ms. Cotillard from the podium. Ethan Hawke, one of the stars of the movie, presented to Linklater and got in a funny swipe at critics, since that was what the dinner was all about. He said, “Manohla Dargis [in LA Weekly, 1998] once wrote about me, “Richard Linklater seems to achieve the impossible: He makes Ethan Hawke bearable.”
The annual dinner is usually a chance for some actor to recall a nasty review from the legendary Rex Reed, who was not in attendance. Wallace Shawn, the famed actor and director, told me the last time he’d been at a NYFCC dinner “it ended with violence” and had something to do with John Simon, the notoriously combative critic for New York Magazine. Ah, those were the days.
Patricia Arquette, who’s on her victory lap leading up to the Oscars for Boyhood, was very mysterious about the movie and her character. After having played the character for the 12 years of shooting the film, Arquette said there was “one thing” that didn’t add up in her head. “Every year when we came back, it was on my mind,” she said. “But I won’t tell you what it was.” She recalled her famous grandfather, Cliff Arquette, Charley Weaver from “the Hollywood Squares” game show, in her speech.
notes from the red carpet:
Damien Chazelle, the director of “Whiplash,” said that his next film, which he will begin shooting in the fall, again stars Miles Teller, this time as a jazz pianist. He said it was going to be a “full fledged musical in the style of “The Bandwagon,” “Singing in the Rain,” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” “A love story musical about two artists in LA so the tone will be very different but similar kind of theme as ‘Whiplash.’ How do you balance life and art?”
“Whiplash” star JK Simmons, who won Best Supporting Actor is tipped for an Oscar nomination (if not win): “It’s really been notable the offers that have been coming my way and how early in the process they’re coming my way. I’m attached to a film, a big budget film, that doesn’t even start until late July and usually I’m the guy they hire a week before the cameras rolls.”
Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, the writers-directors of “The Lego Movie,” which the New York Critics named best animated film, said they’re not used to this kind of love from critics for their “22 Jump Street” movies starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. “People have a little bias against comedy,” Miller told me. “They might be biased against wiener jokes also,” Lord added. The next Hill-Tatum caper is in the works despite the critics they told me. “There’s some crazy ideas out there for the next 23 Jump Street,” Lord told. “Our friend Rodney (Rothman) is working on the script. We’re having fun thinking of it. But it’s early days.”
Ellar Coltrane, 19, the real life kid from “Boyhood” who may or may not decide to be an actor going forward wishes reporters would stop asking him a particular question on the red carpet. “I get asked about a girls a lot and that makes me uncomfortable. Thanks for not asking.”
Linklater, who’s always charming and talkative with the press, told me he’s still “processing” all the award nominations and prizes “Boyhood” has racked up. As for the format, a film made over 12 years in yearly increments, “ I had to kind of create the form to tell this story. That was the only way to articulate these ideas about growing up and parenting and life at the time and that was the movie that was in my head.”
Linklater says he hasn’t ruled out continuing the film past where it stops– a “Boyhood 2.0” that would follow Coltrane, “The 20’s are interesting. Certainly you could. I’ve done it with other films. As they get older it just gets deeper and richer so who the hell knows. It’s a little soon to think about that.”
Timothy Spall, who got the top acting prize, arrived the earliest of any of the celebrities so he could do the red carpet. Then he dashed out to do a Q&A to promote “Turner.” He arrived in time for the reception. He’s a lot attractive and now a lot slimmer than he was in Mike Leigh’s “Turner.” He plays the title character, J.M. W. Turner, for which he also received the best actor prize at Cannes. In contrast to his beautiful landscape paintings, Turner was uncouth, practically feral; he often grabbed women and grunted instead of speaking. When I told Spall he was much more attractive than his movie roles he replied, “That’s just as well because Turner was a bit of a gargoyle.’’
with reporting from Roger Friedman
photo of Bill Murray c2015 Paula Schwartz