Armond White Ruffles Black Swan’s Feathers at New York Film Critic Circle Awards

12 Jan

Armond White

by Chris Petersen

The annual New York Film Critic‘s Circle Awards is one of the most prestigious and exclusive awards ceremonies each year, even if it doesn’t receive the amount of publicity as other ceremonies, like the Golden Globes or the Oscars. The New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) has been around since 1935 and is one of the most renowned critical circles in the country. This year, they got a new chairman, Armond White, writer for the New York Press, and one of the most controversial critics around. White is known for his reviews to be contradictory to many of his colleagues, writing long epithets in flowery language, many times degrading highly praised films, while lauding other films that many critics panned. For some perspective, here are some examples courtesy of RottenTomatoes.com.

 

FILMS THAT RECEIVED CRITICAL ACCLAIM

Inception (85% RT Score)

“Like Grand Theft Auto’s quasi-cinematic extension of noir and action-flick plots, Inception manipulates the digital audience’s delectation for relentless subterfuge.”

The King’s Speech (95% RT Score) 

“Each scene in The King’s Speech is so poorly staged that its ineptitude sometimes borders on the avant-garde.”

         

       

So inept that it fooled everyone into giving it nominations for almost every cinematography award.

 

The Social Network (97% RT Score)

” Like one of those fake-smart, middlebrow TV shows, the speciousness of The Social Network is disguised by topicality. It’s really a movie excusing Hollywood ruthlessness.”

Black Swan (88% RT Score)

” Aronofsky’s ethnic denial and escape into Nina’s psychological trauma actually trivializes her artistic pursuit. Turning art into genre movie silliness is a careerist’s dance.”

FILMS CRITICALLY PANNED

Jonah Hex (13% RT Score)

” It reexamines assumptions of good and evil-morality tale vs, trite entertainment-by confronting the hideous compromises people make with social conventions and their own desperation.”

Grown Ups (10% RT Score)

“Cheerful and surprisingly heartfelt”

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (20% RT Score)

” Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is more proof [Bay] has a great eye for scale and a gift for visceral amazement.”

Transformers: Totally more worthy of praise than Black Swan.

 

White, as the chair, was the emcee for the event. When Darren Aronofsky’s film, Black Swan,  was presented an award for cinematography, Aronofsky decided to get in a little jab at White and said,  “I thought I was giving White the compassion award because if you don’t have something, you should get it. Seriously, keep it up because you give all of us another reason not to read The New York Press.” 

Not being one who takes criticism well, White fired back later on in the night by saying,“That’s all right. Darren reads me. That’s all I want. And because he reads me, he knows the truth.” After that, he seemed to cross the line by stating his opinion in the worst possible forum. Aronofsky wasn’t the only target that night for him, he also criticized The Social Network, when playwright Tony Kushner took the stage to present the Best Picture award to the film, by quipping, “Maybe he can explain how it won Best Picture.” He then set his sights on indie favorite, Noah Baumbach, and with a parting comment remarked, “I thank the circle for not awarding a single award to Greenberg.”

I am known from time to time for shelling out some scathing criticisms of the industry, awards shows, actors and the like, from my armchair quarterback blog. Sometimes my criticisms can go a little far when I get going into a rant, but to me, White was out of place as the emcee of a prestigious event, and as the chair of the NYFCC, by degrading the films at the awards show, his own Circle was awarding. I am not saying that he isn’t entitled to his opinion, he just needs to know that there is a time and a place for that, instead of acting like a spoiled child who didn’t get his way.

On a similar subject, I can respect White’s opinion about hype and the recent shift in the appreciation of criticism. He wrote a very well-written article on it on the New York Press website here, even if it was ridiculing bloggers such as myself and incredibly elitist. However, I think he ends up sounding more like that goth in high school who bucks the trend for the sake of bucking the trend, instead of actually believing what he writes. At one point, I thought he might be a made up character, a pen name someone used to stir up movie fans, sort of like Andy Kaufman’s Tony Clifton, using it for one prolonged joke on the public.

Genius

But alas, this guy is for real. While he has a point about how the internet has caused a lack of appreciation for criticism, and there are a lot of ignorant people out there posting incendiary comments, that doesn’t mean that everyone that isn’t part of a syndicated column or blog isn’t worth listening to.

What are your thoughts about Mr. White’s comments? Were they justified? Was it the right place?

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One Response to “Armond White Ruffles Black Swan’s Feathers at New York Film Critic Circle Awards”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Armond White Ruffles Black Swan’s Feathers at New York Film Critic Circle Awards (via Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood) | The Calculable - January 13, 2011

    […] Armond White Ruffles Black Swan’s Feathers at New York Film Critic Circle Awards (via Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood) Posted on 13 January, 2011 by Jarle Petterson by Chris Petersen The annual New York Film Critic’s Circle Awards is one of the most prestigious and exclusive awards ceremonies each year, even if it doesn’t receive the amount of publicity as other ceremonies, like the Golden Globes or the Oscars. The New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) has been around since 1935 and is one of the most renowned critica … Read More […]

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