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Aronofsky vs. White at the New York Film Critics Awards

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 11, 2011 at 11:54AM

EW critic Lisa Schwarzbaum does a swell job of putting what happened Monday night at the New York Film Critics awards in perspective.
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Thompson on Hollywood

EW critic Lisa Schwarzbaum does a swell job of putting what happened Monday night at the New York Film Critics awards in perspective.

From her point of view, both Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, presenting an award to his cinematographer Matty Libatique, and NYFCC 2010 chair and host Armond White (New York Press) behaved rudely, turning what should have been a joyful celebration into an unpleasant, sour evening:

Aronofsky couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a verbal swipe at the evening’s host, saying, “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.”

Then White couldn’t resist the opportunity to respond: “That’s all right. Darren reads me. That’s all I want. And because he reads me, he knows the truth.” The proceedings became ruder from there, more self-referential, more uncomfortable. Introducing Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner to present the best picture award to The Social Network, White offered, “Maybe he can explain why it won best picture.” And closing the evening — his final moment at the microphone – the emcee threw in a gratuitous swipe at director Noah Baumbach, another filmmaker on his s— list, saying, “I thank the Circle for not awarding a single award to Greenberg.”

In his review, White compared Black Swan unfavorably to Kanye West's Runaway. Aronofsky went on to apologize:

“I was a dick. I’m sorry. It’s just really hard when you spend years working on something and it just gets torn apart."

It was all too predictable that lightning-rod contrarian White would not be socially mature enough to play the role of gracious host, and was not able to exercise the restraint required. He can write what he wants, and we can choose whether or not to read it. But in this setting he pissed on his entire tribe. UPDATE: When I spoke to Aronofsky later at the AFI Awards lunch he said his mother reprimanded him for his behavior. THR's Tim Appelo probes further. BTW I wouldn't call the New York Press's White a "top New York critic."

This article is related to: Awards, Directors, Stuck In Love, Critics Groups, Darren Aronofsky, Critics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.