'Zero Dark Thirty' Claims Best Picture at the 2012 New York Film Critics Awards

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Photo: Columbia Pictures

The New York Film Critics Circle announced their Best of 2012 winners today and it was a slow-moving, up-and-down affair. All the momentum seemed to be going the way of Steven Spielberg's Lincoln as it nabbed wins for Best Screenplay (Tony Kushner), Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Supporting Actor (Sally Field), but in the end it was Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty that swooped in and took Best Picture.

Greig Fraser was awarded Best Cinematography early in the day for Zero Dark Thirty and after a swath of awards for Lincoln it wasn't until Bigelow took home Best Director -- her second win from the org, which also awarded her in 2009 for The Hurt Locker -- that the tide began to turn. Only minutes later the film was awarded Best Picture.

As far as awards perspective goes and what this may mean for the Oscar race, last year the group named The Artist the best picture of the year and it eventually went on to win the Oscar. Yet, while they've named the Best Picture winner three out of the last five years, out of the last 20 they have only matched up five times.

If you head over to my Awards Calendar you'll see we'll be hearing from the National Board of Review on Wednesday followed by the Screen Actors Guild nominations next Wednesday, December 12 and the Golden Globe nominations on Thursday, December 13.

In addition to that, I'll be receiving my nomination ballot for the Critics' Choice Movie Awards today and those nominations will be announced next Tuesday, December 11. So, yeah, this is just the start... I will be keeping track of all these early Best Picture wins in my Oscar Overture where Zero Dark Thirty's New York win is the first one added to the chart.

The complete list of New York Film Critics winners is listed below. The ceremony honoring the 78th annual New York Film Critics Circle Award winners will take place in New York on January 7.


  • Zero Dark Thirty


  • Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)


  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)


  • Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea)


  • Matthew McConaughey (Bernie and Magic Mike)


  • Sally Field (Lincoln)


  • Tony Kushner (Lincoln)


  • Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty)


  • Frankenweenie


  • Amour


  • The Central Park Five


  • How to Survive a Plague
  • Travis

    That McConaughey win surprises and excites me. He was damn good in Magic Mike. The love for Lincoln just makes me want to see it all the more, although I am disappointed Hathaway didn't get attention (Les Mis is my favortie musical of all time, and I am in love with the story, and have waited for this movie for quite some time)

  • Ferdi

    Now that's what I call a surprise win for Rachel Weisz at the Best Actress category for her performance in The Deep Blue Sea! Love to see those surprise wins!

    Also very good news for Zero Dark Thirty!

  • Kyle

    Man, I really thought Sally Field was the weakest part of Lincoln but oh well :(

    • Frank

      I would say Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the weakest part of Lincoln personally. His scenes didn't add much imo

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    While I'm more than disappointed to see ZDT win, I'm so happy to see Rachel Weisz win Best Actress (my no.1 pick so far this year) and my boy McConaughey take supporting actor (although I would have rather seen him grab Best Actor for Killer Joe).

    • Chris138

      Why the disappointment about Zero Dark Thirty winning? I can't really comment one way or the other since I haven't seen but I'm just curious.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        I take issue with the politics of the film (and the rather unsettling message that's being sent about what kinds of films Americans are responding to). At least films like The Artist, The Kings Speech, The Hurt Locker and Slumdog Millionaire didn't have a political agenda.

        • Jarrod

          Oh, for the love of ... you haven't even seen the film.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            I know you're ready to pounce Jarrod, but calm down ;)

        • Chris138

          The head of the NYFCC said that the film isn't triumphant and I've read similar statements from other reviews, but as I said I haven't seen the film yet so I'll have to wait and see for myself.

        • Nick

          What makes you think ZDT has a political agenda? The reviews all say that it doesn't (and that's where its biggest strength lies), and The Hurt Locker didn't either.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            The same people who are saying this film isn't political are the same people who said Argo wasn't political. So those claims mean nothing to me. As usual, I won't judge the film's quality until I've seen it (I expressed my reservations about Argo, and then I saw it and my concerns were validated and then some).

            However, to dismiss Zero Dark Thirty as "not political" when the film is about a political assassination is kinda strange. Also, The Playlist's review refers to the ending as a "payoff." The payoff being the unlawful assassination of another human being. Extrajudicial killings are certainly political, so again, I don't understand how people can pretend that this film is not political.

            Now, most people would say "but Bin Laden was a mass murderer, isn't it fine to celebrate the killing of a mass murder?" But this question is irrelevant to the conversation about whether the film is or is not political. For the sake of argument, let's say it is. The film is still political because the cause (presumably) is considered noble by the filmmakers. It doesn't matter whether or not I agree with the ideas the film is dealing with, it's political nonetheless.

            • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

              I think people are using the wrong argument. From what I hear, the payoff seems to be more of a "at what cost?" thing. Yes, they kill a man who may have killed thousands of people (and probably did). However, it seems, based on the description of Chastain's character, she gives up her life (and possibly her humanity) in the quest. Now, I have seen no more of this film than you have, but based on reviews and everything, that seems to be the message

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                Either way it's political and that's all I'm sayin.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

                Which would fit along with their themes of Hurt Locker. They are brave in their quest, but look at the horrors and the loss of humanity as well

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

                It is technically a political thriller. The reason people say it isn't "political" is it doesn't try to glorify a conservative or liberal idea

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                Well, your final point is debatable. If it glorifies the men (and woman) who killed Bin Laden on foreign soil without permission by either the US government or the Palestinian Government, that WOULD fall under the conservative tent. The question then becomes: when does it end? Does it now become acceptable to assassinate anyone who's perceived to be an "enemy" without a warrant? But of course, we can't say for sure until we've all seen the film.

                You bring up The Hurt Locker, and while I would argue that The Hurt Locker is NOT pushing an agenda, it is certainly political. You say: "They are brave in their quest" - and I would say that's taking sides and offering up a biased perspective (which is definitely political).

              • Sully

                I guess my big question is: why shouldn't films be political? Art is a reflection of our lives, which are effected by politics on a daily basis.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                There's absolutely nothing wrong with films being political. Nothing at all. But I was criticized for saying I didn't agree with the films politics because some commenters insisted that film WASN'T political at all. And that's what the conversation became about.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                Edit: "THE film wasn't political.."

              • Chris138

                @AS: I don't mean to be that guy, but I think you meant to say Pakistani government, not Palestinian ;)

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                lol, correct, a bad gaffe on my part.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

                When you say US government did not approve, do you mean Congress, or do you mean any government official? Actually, that doesn't matter, because while that point could be debated, I don't really find it something we ned to get into. I wouldn't call that a Republican idea, but I wouldn't call it liberal either. I do not deny politics being in The Hurt Locker, that was not my point. Also, when I say they are brave in their quest, I just mean they aren't the stereotypical redneck soldiers who just want to shoot up some terrorists (whether the stereotype is intentional, usually in liberal films, or unintentional, like conservative films) and act in the sense of jingoism. The men are portrayed as honest men, each with their own flaws, joining the military for their country and placed in a war that is not supported or justifiable. I wouldn't call it biased, especially as I felt it showed all of the people in an equal light (except the true terrorists, but even then it's made clear it is a small group and not a whole culture the way some films-Red Dawn-would handle it). While it is political, I don't think it is really biased one way or another.

                I must say, I'm not sure if you agree or not, but I am enjoying this debate. Mainly because it is just a peaceful discussion on political films and not an insult match like many people try to get into

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS


                Yes, I'm enjoying this very much. As I always say, there's nothing better than a thought-provoking conversation about film.

                If you wanted to be specific, you could say Congress (since the Executive branch is still technically a branch of Government).

                "The men are portrayed as honest men, each with their own flaws, joining the military for their country and placed in a war that is not supported or justifiable. I wouldn't call it biased, especially as I felt it showed all of the people in an equal light" - Well, I would differ here. I'd say there is certainly a bias. As you say, the men are depicted as honest (and somewhat noble). I think your use of the term "true terrorist" gets at my point. From a different perspective (the Iraqi perspective, for instance) the American soldiers would be the "true terrorists," invading and occupying a foreign territory. The alleged "terrorists" might be viewed by Iraqis as the brave and honest men who are trying to defend their land against foreign invaders. It's all a question of perspective, and when a filmmaker chooses to show only one perspective, I feel a bias is present.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

                When I refer to the terrorists I did not refer to Iraq as a whole. I found the film divided the characters into four groups: the soldiers, the Iraqis who don't mind their presence, the Iraqis that hate their presence but don't plan on killing anyone, and those planting the bombs and killing people. However, while I don't necessarily agree on bias the way you are saying it, I can clearly see and can't deny that there is definitely a more lenient light shone on the American soldiers

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                Understood, but the bias lies in the fact that the terrorists who are planting the bombs are viewed as the "bad guys." In Red Dawn, for instance, the characters who are violently defending their homeland are viewed as noble and justified. It's a pro-America bias (which is to be expected, but it's still a bias).

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

                Also, the reason I mentioned government was because in this case, you could technically say that as Congress considers the "War on Terror" as legitimate, it gives the president the right to give military orders, which an attack on their "leader" could be justified. However, as I felt this argument had little bearing on the issue at hand (the bias), I dropped it and changed the topic

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

                And as for Red Dawn, my point is that films like that show one side as all good and the other as all bad. The Hurt Locker, I believe, is different in not showing either side as all positive or all negative

            • Jarrod

              Sounds like the only person who has an obvious political opinion is you, AS: you haven't seen the film, but have assigned motives to its filmmakers ("The film is still political because the cause (presumably) is considered noble by the filmmakers"), and disparaged them because they don't argue YOUR POINT, which is that the U.S. acted wrongly in assasinating Bin Laden without the "Palestinian" involvement. Those poor Palestinians, huh? They were really wronged by the U.S. in this instance.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                "Sounds like the only person who has an obvious political opinion is you" - That's not what the conversation is about, is it? The conversation is about whether or not films like ZDT and THL are political.

                "you haven't seen the film, but have assigned motives to its filmmakers" - So in saying this am I to assume that you never feel a certain filmmaker has political motivations until you've actually seen the film? Is this so? So then, for instance, I guess we could say that Michael Moore as no political bias. I mean, if we haven't seen his latest film, how could anyone possibly assign political motives?

                "and disparaged them because they don't argue YOUR POINT" - When asked why I was disappointed to see ZDT win, I said I took issue with the films politics. Is this not reasonable? Or should I be expected to go along with whatever the filmmakers think just for the hell of it?

                "Those poor Palestinians, huh? They were really wronged by the U.S. in this instance." - Well, your apparent use of sarcasm seems to convey a political opinion. Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

              • Jarrod

                "Well, your apparent use of sarcasm seems to convey a political opinion. Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

                Ha, ha, ha, ha ... oh wait, you're serious. You seem to genuinely think that my reference to the fact that you can't tell Palestinians from Pakistanis is a "political" reference? Right ...

                "I said I took issue with the films politics. Is this not reasonable?" Yes, yes it is. You have literally judged a film before you have seen it: if you can't see why that is wrong ...

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                How old are you?

              • Jarrod

                Old enough to know the difference between Palestine and Pakistan. Let me know when you reach that age ...

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                No but really, how old are you?

            • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Satu/ Satu

              With that way of thinking, The Hurt Locker is political as well.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                Yes, Travis and I discussed that above.

  • Julie

    I liked Rachel Weisz in Deep Blue Sea, but didn’t she get nominated and win a few critics’ awards for it LAST YEAR? I feel as if it’s been in InDemand and DVD for a really long time. I think it’s ineligible for any MAJOR award consideration this year =( =( (GG, Oscar...)

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Anthony_X/ Anthony_X

    When Twitter from New York Critics within the NYFCC started to rave Zero Dark Thirty I knew the wind was shifting. In my opinion, even though Argo will win National Board of Review, it seems clear that Zero Dark Thirty has stolen its thunder. Argo peaked too early.

    Los Angeles Film Critics will surely throw a bone or two to The Master and Argo, and of course Emmanuelle Riva will win Best Actress.

    And Matthew McConaughey is building a lot of buzz now. The Spirits, now this, and probably also NBR on Wednesday.

    The battle for Best Picture has just started and is more interesting than ever.

    Lincoln vs Les Miserables vs Zero Dark Thirty.

    • Stiggy

      I still rekon that The Golden Globes will go towards The Hobbit.

  • Dale

    I've been championing Rachel Weisz for some time now, so it was exciting for me to see the New York Film Critics Circle award her best actress. I now think the Academy will give her consideration for an Oscar nod.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      Yes, me as well. It was a brilliant performance and an excellent film. It's too bad it hasn't received more attention.

  • Dale

    In response to Julie's query concerning Rachel Weisz and "The Deep Blue Sea," although the movie was shown at several film festivals and played theatrically in the UK and Ireland during 2011, it opened in the US in March of this year, so it should be eligible for 2012 award consideration.

    • Julie

      Cool :) Thanks !

  • JAB

    I've suspected since the beginning of the year that before I fill out my "Best Of..." list I'd have to wait for ZDT to open.
    Bigelow has hit it out of the park before with THL & I also love "Point Break", "Near Dark" & the under-rated "Strange Days".
    Where's my time machine for 2 weeks into the future?

  • William

    So Brad, can you blatantly tell us what you'll be choosing for your picks for the Critics Choice Awards? Or is that a kept secret deal? I'm guessing the latter.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      On the Friday podcast next week Laremy and I will reveal all of our nominations.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/HarryFuertes/ Harry Fuertes

    I wouldn't mind if either Les Mis, Zero Dark, or Lincoln won Best Picture, but I have a feeling this years Oscars will be filled with tons of surprises.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AndrewJ.S./ Andrew J.S.

    It's exciting to see some surprises. I know it's wishful thinking, but could we actually have an interesting race this year?

  • The Jackal

    I'm not so sure that Zero Dark Thirty glorifies, or in any way condones the execution of the terrorist Osama Bin Laden. To say this film is "political" is to assume it takes sides or supports the ideology of those responsible for Bin Laden's death. This film is about a political subject; however, this doesn't designate the film as "political." It is possible to merely observe the hunt for the world's most famous terrorist (taking an unflinching look at the U.S.' use of torture, etc.) without passing judgment.

    Thems the facts

  • LoveforBuzz

    Is anyone as disappointed in the past couple of Oscar Best Picture wins: The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech? I have yet to see The Artist, but I can already say I know what I would have loved to see win. I think it will be interesting to see Best Picture this year. Les Miserables, Lincoln, The Master, Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, The Silver Linings Playbook...and some critics are wanting to see some Skyfall, Dark Knight Rises; and I've heard Amour is good. I don't know about you guys, but I loved Cloud Atlas. It was brilliant. I want to see love for Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Ben Winshaw, and Doona Bee (best actor, actress, supporting actors, and supporting actress respectively). Also, Perks of Being A Walflower was a good movie. I think Logan Lerman did a good job. Oh, oh, and let's not forget The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Proof, The Debt); with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, and Tom Wilkinson, and Penelope Wilton giving amazing performances amongst others. It was a beautiful script, and movie. Very funny and touching. Sometimes these overly dramatic (Just Oscar-bait) movies kill me. I'm sorry The Dark Knight was the best movie of 2008. And I loved The Help and Bridesmaids. I think really good quality blockbuster movies deserve more recognition. That's not easy being that awesome. It's not. Neither is stuff like being Abraham Lincoln, but really like its easier to look mournful and stressed than it is to make millions of people laugh and have a good time kicking ass (Batman). Nor is it easy doing what Cloud Atlas did. That's some really ambitious stuff right there. Good captivating storytelling, writing, acting, and composition that has ambition is better to me than just but it's Abraham Lincoln. (And I think Lincoln will be great. I think it will be amazing. But there are other things.) Just my opinion/rant. Carry on.

    • m1

      "Is anyone as disappointed in the past couple of Oscar Best Picture wins: The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech?"


      • Stiggy

        Depends on you you think should have won.

      • Chris138

        Slumdog Millionaire - Kind of. It's not a bad choice but I still think Milk was better than all of the other movies nominated.

        The Hurt Locker - No problem here. One of the few times in recent memory where my favorite movie of the year actually won Best Picture.

        The King's Speech - Yeah, I never bought the hype for this one. I thought Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush gave great performances, and the former was a deserving winner for the Oscar. But I still think The Social Network was better, and at the very least David Fincher should have won for his directing. I have no idea how anyone could think Hooper did a better job there.

    • http://www.seattleweekly.com/authors/john-wood/2005/ John Wood

      I have been dissappointed in the last few Best Picture winners for sure. But the Best Picture winners are very rarely the best pictures for their given year. They are generally just the films that represent a style of filmmaking which Hollywood most wishes to represent itself by - generally speaking: unchallenging, popular entertainments touching ever so lightly on "important" events or subjects.

      Hurt Locker was sort of an abnormal BP winner.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Satu/ Satu

    I'm glad NYFCC picked Weisz and McConaughey, just to refresh the going. The Deep Blue Sea was a snooze fest to me. Soooo boring that I just hoped it would end. I guess everybody in that film acted top-notch but I couldn't concentrate. _Boring_. And Magic Mike was better than I expected but nothing special, McConaughey was quite ordinary himself, in my opinion but I like him, so I wouldn't mind him getting some attention awards-wise.

    I also have a huge "problem" with Zero Dark Thirty. I haven't seen it yet but I'm rooting for Bigelow just because she's a woman who makes really ballsy films. BUT I didn't really like that much of The Hurt Locker (and I love! Jeremy Renner) and they say this one is even more wry and documentary. I prefer grandiose like Les Miz. But I haven't seen most of the films yet, so hard to have any proper opinion.

  • Risa

    Is Zero Dark Thirty being released just in time for the awards season to start? I thought it was too late for it to get in at this point.

    I thought McConaughey deserved recongnition more for Killer Joe than absolutely anything else. Oh well. And yay for another dull Daniel Day Lewis win for playing yet another role somewhere in between Plainview and Cutting.

  • http://www.seensome.com SeenSome

    Really glad to see McConaughey win, hopefully he can nab a few critics awards and get some momentum for an Oscar.