New York Film Critics Celebrate 'Roma' at Annual Awards Gala

Roma Still - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Netflix

Chris Rock and Martin Scorsese were among the presenters at the 84th annual awards, which initially announced its 2019 honorees back in November.

Many of the big winners at Sunday night’s Golden Globes cut their celebrations short, deserting Los Angeles to attend this year’s New York Film Critics Circle Awards on Monday.

But on the red carpet and throughout the ceremony at TAO Downtown, another awards show remained a topic of discussion: the Oscars. The Academy is seemingly still searching for a host, and Chris Rock made it clear that he’s not interested in the gig.

“If it was five years ago, I could say something really offensive and funny right now, but I can’t do that anymore, so…hey!” Rock said, taking the stage to present Bo Burnham — who directed Rock’s first stand-up special in almost 10 years — with the award for best first film for Eighth Grade. “Steve Martin is here. You should host the Oscars. You’re the best. Steve Martin should host the Oscars! Because I’m not doing it! You’re not getting me.”

Actors, directors and producers alike also shared what getting a nomination would mean to them. Regina Hall, however, actually seemed more hopeful that Regina King would score a nod for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. She explained that the two are constantly mistaken for each other, allowing her to reap the benefits of King’s success. “I hope she wins that Oscar,” Hall said onstage. "I’ll get a car!”

When King took the stage, she expressed her excitement that “the Reginas” were both present. “To have this time to share with you, sis, oh, God is good,” she said. “I love you so much. You make me laugh. You make me cry. We have shared so much emotion and love together.”

Hall won best actress honors for Support the Girls, making her the first black woman to receive the award in the NYFCC’s 83-year history. She shared a story from the film’s premiere, in which producer Houston King told her, “Well, hopefully this isn’t it. We’re going to be pushing. Hopefully we’ll see you at the Gothams and all these awards.”

"And I remember I thought, ‘This white man is crazy,'" Hall joked. “I didn’t want him to be disappointed. I had already accepted our fate. I thought we made an amazing movie and nothing else really mattered besides that.”

For King, she was most proud of If Beale Street Could Talk’s representation. “I had one woman say that she felt like it was the first time she looked in a black person’s eyes for two minutes,” she said, adding that at its core, the film is “a story about the fabric of America.”

But it was a story about growing up in Mexico City that was the night’s big winner. Though previously announced, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma took home the most prizes: for best cinematography, director and picture. Naomi Watts, Ellen Page and Kathryn Bigelow presented Cuarón with the respective awards.

“What I [am] happy [about] obviously is that a Mexican film in black-and-white — and more important, [one that] centers on a character that’s been invisible in most cinema and also society — is celebrated,” the filmmaker said. “That is the thing that excites me the most.”

First Reformed followed with two awards, with nods in the actor (Ethan Hawke) and screenplay (Paul Schrader) categories. Martin Scorsese presented Schrader with his award, saying, “When you think back, look over his work, you can feel him working his way toward First Reformed over the years in Taxi Driver, the Pickpocket trilogy and other pictures.”

Hawke perfectly summed up the interaction between the two when it was his turn to take the stage: “It was an honor watching Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese hug. Fuck me!”

The actor told The Hollywood Reporter the NYFCC honors are extra special for him and Schrader, in part because Schrader started out as a critic. “[Schrader] takes film criticism very seriously. I think the prize means a lot to both of us, really, because it means the critical establishment is trying to tell people to see our movie,” Hawke said. “And that’s why you make these things, so they can be seen and to reach people. When you don’t have a big advertising budget, and you’re not playing in the malls of America, we need people’s help. So we’re deeply appreciative.”

In addition to Scorsese, Gayle King, John Leguizamo and Andrew Rannells were also on hand to present awards. Martin, whose presence was largely unknown until Rock alerted the audience, did the same for Richard E. Grant, who won best supporting actor honors for his role in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

“The excitement of tonight reminds me of the birth of my child,” Martin said. “The only difference is that I showed up for this.”

He called Grant’s performance “beautifully nuanced and heartbreaking” and “deserving of all the accolades he’s garnered,” and also took the time to read a number of their correspondences from over the years (which were in the form of faxes).

Grant relayed his thanks to Martin upon taking the stage: "Thank you very much, Steve Martin, you fuck.”