December has finally arrived—the month when the award season kicks off, which eventually leads up to the Oscars in March. The first major award of this season starts off with the “New York Film Critics Circle” Awards. And it started with a bang!
When it was announced that the director of the Indian epic action drama “RRR,” Mr. S.S. Rajamouli, had won the award for Best Director at the NYFCC, it became an instant headline and the most talked about thing in the last 24 hours among Hollywood as well as the Indian film industry. This announcement sent a shockwave among the most reputed Oscar tracking media outlets, leading them to move up “RRR” and “Rajamouli” for Best Picture and Best Director slots, respectively, in their updated Oscar predictions.
The “New York Film Critics Circle” is one of the oldest (since 1935) and most prestigious award shows out there. It holds a massive sway at “The Academy.” A few days before this monumental announcement, in an interview with ‘The Los Angeles Times,’ president of ‘Variance Films’ (US distributor of “RRR” and responsible for its Oscar campaign), Mr. Dylan Marchetti has said that “RRR” needs to win in any major category in at least one of the major film critics group, namely ‘Los Angeles Film Critics Association’, ‘National Society of Film Critics’ and of course the ‘New York Film Critic Circle’ for “RRR” to come into the forefront of Best Picture conversation. Last year, Marchetti’s “Variance Films” campaigned for the Japanese film “Drive My Car.” It won the top prize from all of those critic groups and went on to get nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. “RRR” has now already had a win at the first award show (NYFCC) this year, leading to its increased chances of securing an Oscar nomination.
Why Is Winning At NYFCC Such A Big Deal?
If we count all the 22 NYFCC Best Director winners of the 21st century, then we will see that 16 of them have landed Oscar nominations. If we examine the last four years, three of the four winners have not only been nominated but also won the Oscars. If we look at the last two years, it becomes even more interesting. The last two NYFCC Best Director award winners have both won the Best Director award at the Oscars.
|Award Season||NYFCC winner||Oscar winner|
|2018-‘19||Alfanso Cuaron||Alfanso Cuaron|
|2019-‘20||Josh Safdie & Benny Safdie||Bong Joon Ho|
|2020-‘21||Chloe Zhao||Chloe Zhao|
|2021-‘22||Jane Campion||Jane Campion|
|2022-‘23||S.S. Rajamouli||(yet to be announced)|
Realistic Probability Of Rajamouli Securing The Best Director Nomination At The Oscars
Foreign films and foreign directors didn’t get much attention at the Oscars outside of the “Best International Picture” category, which is a reserved category for foreign films. But all that changed in 2020, when South Korean director Bong Joon Ho went on to win the Best Director award, and his film “Parasite” won Best Picture at the Oscars. That was a seismic shift in terms of the acceptance of foreign films in the main categories. Since then, every year, a director outside of the US has been included in the Best Director nomination list.
|2020||Bong Joon Ho||Parasite|
|2021||Thomas Vinterberg||Another Round|
|2022||Ryusuke Hamaguchi||Drive My Car|
S.S. Rajamouli, being a foreign director, can get into that slot this year. Although he has a strong competitor, Park Chan Wook, the South Korean director of the critically acclaimed “Decision to Leave,” Rajamouli has one big disadvantage. All of the above-mentioned films were the official submissions of their respective countries, whereas “RRR” is not. The Film Federation of India instead submitted Pan Nalin’s “The Last Film Show.” Although with strong word of mouth, the mammoth Oscar campaign by “Variance Films” and now the NYFCC win has given a solid boost to RRR’s Oscar possibilities.
NYFCC is not the only award show where S.S. Rajamouli’s direction has been acknowledged. He was also nominated for Best Director in the prestigious “Saturn Awards” and ended up being the runner-up in the “Sunset Circle Awards.” Even though the film was not selected as India’s official entry, “RRR” still won the Best International Picture award at the “Saturn Awards” as well as at the “Sunset Circle Awards.” “RRR” was also the runner-up for Best Picture in the Hollywood Critics Association mid-year awards. The NYFCC win built a strong base for Academy voters to consider Rajamouli in the Best Director contention, and a few more wins or even just nominations in some of the upcoming big award shows like the “Los Angeles Film Critics Awards,” “National Society of Film Critics,” “Hollywood Critics Association,” “Golden Globes,” and “BAFTA” will solidify RRR’s Oscar chances even further.
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