National Society of Film Critics crowns ‘Past Lives’ as best picture

Just ahead of Sunday’s Golden Globes Awards, Celine Song’s decades-spanning romance film “Past Lives” was named the best picture of 2023 by the National Society of Film Critics.

The A24 drama starring Greta Lee finished two points ahead of the World War II chamber drama “The Zone of Interest” and five points ahead of Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” in the critics’ voting

The victory for “Past Lives” came a little over a month after it kicked off the awards season with a best feature win at the Gotham Awards in late November.

Though “The Zone of Interest” finished second in best picture voting, its Jonathan Glazer nabbed the best director award, finishing well ahead of runner-up Todd Haynes, who helmed the Netflix film “May December.”

Sandra Hüller, who starred in both “The Zone of Interest” and “Anatomy of a Fall,” claimed the best actress award for her roles in the international dramas. Da’Vine Joy Randolph took home the best supporting actress award for her work in “The Holdovers.”

Andrew Scott won the best actor award for “All of Us Strangers,” and Charles Melton of “May December” secured the best supporting actor award.

“May December” screenwriter Samy Burch edged out “Past Lives” director-screenwriter Song for best screenplay.

The organization is made up of 61 film critics from across the U.S. and has historically been known for its differing tastes from the Academy Awards and other major cinema awards.

In the last 20 years, the society’s choice for best picture has overlapped with Oscar voting six times. The two bodies coincided in 2004 (“Million Dollar Baby”), 2009 (“The Hurt Locker”), 2015 (“Spotlight”), 2016 (“Moonlight”), 2019 (“Parasite”) and 2020 (“Nomadland”). The critics’ group also re-elected Times film critic Justin Chang as chair of the group, and Times film editor Joshua Rothkopf was elected vice chair.

On Sunday, many of the pictures cited by the film critics will square off at the 81st Golden Globe Awards hosted by stand-up comedian Jo Koy, which will air at 5 p.m. Pacific on CBS and stream on Paramount+.

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