‘Roma’ named best film by New York film critics

This image released by Netflix shows Yalitza Aparicio, center, in a scene from the film "Roma," by filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron. The film has dominated the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, winning best film, best director and best cinematography. The film is Netflix’s most acclaimed release yet, and it’s widely expected to contend for best picture at the Academy Awards. (Carlos Somonte/Netflix via AP)
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NEW YORK (AP) — In what may be the just the first of many such sweeps, Alfonso Cuaron’s masterful, memory-drenched drama “Roma” dominated the New York Film Critics Circle Awards on Thursday, winning best film, best director and best cinematography.

The overwhelming show of support for “Roma” by the critics group wasn’t a surprise. Cuaron’s film has been hailed as a masterpiece since winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It’s widely expected to contend for best picture, among other categories, at the Academy Awards, and Netflix has put its full weight behind an awards campaign. Cuaron made the black-and-white 1970s-set film based on his own upbringing in Mexico City, serving as his own cinematographer.

The critics voted Ethan Hawke best actor for Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed,” and named Schrader’s script best screenplay. Those wins provided yet another boost to Schrader’s anguished tale of a doubt-riddled pastor (Hawke), which took the same awards at Monday’s Gotham Awards.

While the selections of critics groups like the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association often deviate from awards-season favorites, their prestige and early timing can bring less heralded films and performers into the Oscar conversation. That may have happened with the group’s pick for best actress: Regina Hall, star of Andrew Bujalski’s indie comedy “Support the Girls,” about the waitress staff of a Texas sports bar. Hall bested the likes of Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”) and Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”).

Supporting acting prizes went to more widely acknowledged contenders: Regina King for her performance as the matriarch of Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk”; and Richard E. Grant as Melissa McCarthy’s debauched conspirator in the literary forgery drama “Can You Forgive Me?”

Leaving the bigger categories to “Roma,” the critics voted Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” follow-up “Cold War” best foreign language film. Best documentary went to “Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu’s directorial debut about a trio of skateboarding friends in Rockford, Illinois. Bo Burnham’s tender coming-of-age tale “Eighth Grade” took best first film.
And fresh off its glowing reviews, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was chosen as best animated film over Pixar’s “Incredibles 2.”

The critics also added special awards for the retiring chief curator of the Museum of the Moving Image, David Schwartz, and Kino Classics’ DVD box set “Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers.”Q

By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer