At the New York Film Critics Circle awards dinner on Monday, this year’s chairman, Armond White, played a particularly churlish master of ceremonies, making his feelings about some of the group’s choices clear as he introduced each award, going as far as suggesting that perhaps Tony Kushner, who presented the top prize to “The Social Network,” “has a moral responsibility to explain why The Social Network is good.” Because, in case you missed his “greater than” list, which suggested no fewer than three preferable alternatives to David Fincher’s film, he just wanted to make it known that he could not.
When Darren Aronofsky snarked back about need to give White “the compassion award” and his outlet’s irrelevance (a universal critic sore spot these days), you could feel the discomfort in the room. Aronofsky apologized, saying “It’s just really hard when you spend years working on something and it just gets torn apart.” But White was unabashed, even closing the night by thanking the NYFCC “for not awarding a single award to ‘Greenberg.'”
White’s comments were, at least, completely in line with his writing, in which he positions himself as the lone voice of reason in a deluded world. But they seemed woefully inappropriate for someone who was supposed to be representing an entire group of critics who’d voted according to process in order to come up with their picks. Disagreements should have been left there. Instead, White was, if I may bring us back to 2009, the Interrupting Kanye of the evening, casting public aspersions on the majority’s choices in a way that has far less to do with film than with him. And it’s oddly fitting, since it was West’s “Runaway” music video to which White compared “Black Swan,” finding the latter lacking.
EW‘s Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote that she left the event “feeling sour and lectured to and embarrassed. Represented by an ungracious spokesman, all critics were made to look as sour and bitter and ungenerous as caricature (and Ratatouille) would have us.” It’s too bad this event is so unlikely to go viral.