N.Y. film critics name Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” year’s best

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New York —The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s epic tale of the criminal underworld, and a hitman who witnesses decades of political and moral corruption only to face the repercussions of his actions among his own family, was named Best Picture of 2019 by the New York Film Critics Circle.

The film, released by Netflix, is the first in which Scorsese worked with both longtime collaborator Robert De Niro and with Al Pacino, who co-stars as Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa. The critics group named co-star Joe Pesci, who plays Russell Bufalino, head of a Philadelphia crime family, Best Supporting Actor.

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Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), accompanied by Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), in “The Irishman.” Netflix

Antonio Banderas, who plays a filmmaker suffering from health issues and a late-career malaise in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain And Glory,” was named Best Actor.

As is often the case with the New York critics, the voting produced some unexpected wins: Lupita Nyong’o, as the mother of a family terrorized by mysterious dopplegangers in Jordan Peele’s horror film “Us,” was named Best Actress; and Best Director went not to Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino (“One Upon a Time … in Hollywood“), Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite“) or Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story“), but to Benny and Josh Safdie for their crime thriller “Uncut Gems.”

Best Supporting Actress winner Laura Dern was cited for two films, “Marriage Story” (in which she plays the tough-as-steel divorce attorney for Scarlett Johansson), and “Little Women” (Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic).

Tarantino was awarded Best Screenplay for “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” his fantasia of 1960s film and TV celebrity and the Manson Family murders, in which the next-door neighbors of Sharon Tate get to rewrite history.

“Parasite,” a comedy-drama-thriller about class divisions in South Korea, where an immaculate house becomes ground zero for a struggle between the haves and the have-nots, was named Best Foreign Film.

Cinematographer Claire Mathon was cited for her immaculate work on the French period romance “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”

In a year of strong and socially-conscious documentaries, the Best Non-Fiction Film award went to “Honeyland,” a visually-striking anthropological study of beekeepers in the Balkans. And sorry, Disney and Pixar: Best Animated Feature went to the French “I Lost My Body.”

Among this year’s critically-acclaimed films which did not receive a mention among today’s honorees were the World War I drama “1917“; “Jojo Rabbit,” the World War II satire about a young German boy and his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler; “Joker,” starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Gotham villain; the comedy-drama “The Farewell,” about a Chinese family tending to their matriarch who doesn’t know she is dying; the murder mystery “Knives Out“; and Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart,” about studious high school seniors desperately trying to have one night of fun before graduation.

The New York Film Critics Circle, comprised of 47 print and online movie reviewers based in the city, is the first critics’ group to announce its best-of choices for the year. Their awards will be handed out in early January.

2019 NYFCC winners

  • Best Picture: “The Irishman”
  • Best Actor: Antonio Banderas, “Pain And Glory”
  • Best Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”
  • Best Supporting Actor: Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”
  • Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern, “Marriage Story” and “Little Women”
  • Best Director: Benny and Josh Safdie, “Uncut Gems”
  • Best Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
  • Best Cinematography: Claire Mathon, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
  • Best Foreign Language Film: “Parasite” by Bong Joon-ho
  • Best Animated Film: “I Lost My Body” by Jérémy Clapin
  • Best Documentary: “Honeyland” by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov
  • Best First Film: “Atlantics” by Mati Diop
  • Special Awards: Indie Collect (which works to preserve and restore independent features), and composer Randy Newman (“Marriage Story”)

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