The annual New York Film Critics Circle dinner was full of fun, as usual. Casey Affleck cracked up the crowd when he accepted Best Actor for “Manchester by the Sea.” He read aloud as part of his speech negative reviews of his past work, mostly the evening emcee, New York Magazine reviewer David Edelstein.
Edelstein wrote of Affleck in “Out of the Furnace:” Affleck’s line readings would be too mumbly and mulish even for the glory days of fifties Method mama’s boys, and he might as well be wearing a T-shirt that says, “Shoot Me.” In the same review, Edelstein began: It’s looking like whenever you see Casey Affleck in a movie’s credits, you can expect a standard genre B picture slowed down and tarted up… So you get the point. Edelstein was a sitting duck.
I did ask Casey if he’d trimmed his beard. It looked like he had. “Nope, nope,” he said, shaking his head. But he did look better groomed and less serious. I think he’s lightening up as his Oscar comes more into focus.
The room at Tao Downtown was full of stars and critics, of course, so Affleck’s move played hilarious. It rattled Edelstein a little, so he tried for the rest of the evening to repair the situation. But, you know, thats a lose-lose for everyone. Eventually even Edelstein got the point.
Affleck got his own gentle roasting from “Gone Baby Gone” co-star Amy Ryan, who noted that he was so at ease on set that sometimes it seemed like he didn’t know why he was there.
The night was punctuated by a lot of nice speeches by people like “La La Land” director -writer Damien Chazelle, “Manchester” Best Supporting Actress Michelle Williams, and “Moonlight” supporting actor Mahershala Ali. Best Actress winner Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) was happy to note that Greta Garbo won the first such award 82 years ago.
Among the presenters: John Turturro, Adam Driver and famed comedian Robert Klein, the latter brought in to give “Zootopia” the best animated film award. Klein was Most Animated Presenter of the night, doing a live riff that was hilarious and brought the house down. He kicked the stuffing out of what could have been a deadly three hours in awards hell.
But it wasn’t — as opposed to tonight’s National Board of Review– awards chosen to fill a banquet hall and sell $600+ seats– this was the real thing and felt like it. Next stop: Sunday’s Golden Globes.
photo c2017 Showbiz411 by Paula Schwartz