At the New York Film Critic’s Circle Awards on Monday, Jan. 5, NYFCC Best Actor honoree Sean Penn offered early clues as to how he’ll approach this year’s awards: He hammed it up for the cameras with Milk co-star Josh Brolin before blowing off a lengthy line of eager journalists. (Interestingly, Mr. Penn is something of a journalist himself these days, penning an eager travelogue for The Nation in December about his self-initiated chats with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban President Raul Castro).
Wall-E director Andrew Stanton, the Best Animated Film honoree, was far chattier.
"I’m not dating J.Lo or anything!" he crowed to an Us Weekly reporter.
"What do I think is the best film or what do I think will win?" he said, when asked for his Oscar predictions. "I think Slumdog [Millionaire] will probably win. I’m allowed to change my mind every week. I think the best film now as far as all the ones I’ve seen is The Wrestler."
As for his own film, he said, "It’s exciting. It’s exciting to be included in this sort of elite club."
Nearby, Jenny Lumet, daughter of Sidney and NYFCC Best Screenplay winner for Rachel Getting Married, was wearing J. Crew (as her publicist pointed out). Ms. Lumet teaches drama at her son’s private school on 96th Street when not writing screenplays.
The Transom asked Ms. Lumet what she thought of New York critics. She proceeded to hold forth on her New York credentials: "Born on 77th Street in Lenox Hill Hospital, lived my entire life on 91st Street, then 19th Street, then 82nd, now I’m on 95th, with a brief stint on Broome. This is my town. I went to Dalton from the time I was 2 ½, until I barely graduated-barely graduated. I went to NYU for a semester but I got seven incompletes. And a B. It was really bad.
"New Yorkers know their movies," she continued. "That’s what we do. Wanna go to the movies? Let’s go to the movies. It’s raining, it’s snowing, it’s cold. So we don’t fuck around. I’m sorry, where are you from?" she asked.
The Observer, said the Transom.
"We don’t fuck around," she said again. "So to have any kind of acknowledgement from his bunch of people is pretty intense."
An ebullient Mr. Brolin, best supporting actor honoree for Milk, proclaimed that "L.A. is my town, and I love Los Angeles, but New York critics have been very sweet to me. In the last few years they’ve been unbelievably sweet. I can’t say that for Los Angeles, but that’s okay."
He refused to speculate on Milk’s Oscar chances. "It’s not the awards necessarily, it’s just the content," he said, flashing a magnanimous, W-esque smile. "I think it’s a wonderful movie, I think it’s an important movie, I think it’s an inspiring movie, because of Prop 8 and everything that’s happening with that. So I’m very, very happy it’s getting the recognition it deserves."
Penelope Cruz, sublime in an avian Oscar de la Renta number, arrived shortly before dinner and gave several TV interviews before being whisked away by her publicist. She flashed a sad, sympathetic smile at the press line.