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Aronofsky vs. White at the New York Film Critics Awards

by Anne Thompson
January 11, 2011 11:54 AM
8 Comments
  • |
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."

8 Comments

  • DavidC | January 15, 2011 1:15 AMReply

    I haven't made a close study of his work -- there's a PhD project for the future -- but I'd say he values authenticity in all areas, and a something of a flim purists in valuing visual exprssiveness over storytelling. Coparing a feature film to television is a suprme insult.

  • Sketchbook | January 14, 2011 11:37 AMReply

    Armond White is Mr Crude.

  • Anne Thompson | January 14, 2011 10:52 AMReply

    David,

    Can you articulate what Armond White's aesthetic is? Do you think he is consistent and not arbitrarily ornery?

  • DavidC | January 14, 2011 5:30 AMReply

    Armond White is one the few practitioners of my former profession ideosycratic enough to be worth reading. It's the overall groupthink of the vast majority that makes his views seem bizarre.

  • Will | January 12, 2011 7:32 AMReply

    Not to mention his last minute dig at Greenberg.

  • Will | January 12, 2011 7:28 AMReply

    True to a point, Brian, but a lot of the dispatches from the event mention Mr. White being less than gracious in many other instances during the event as well (introducing TSN, Michelle Williams, etc...)

  • Brian | January 12, 2011 4:38 AMReply

    The members of the New York Film Critics Circle are well aware of White's contrarian views, yet they're SURPRISED by his behavior at a ceremony honoring films he disdained??? What were they thinking when they gave him the job of chairman? Which begs the question...was he voted in or is it a rotating position that goes to whoever's turn it is? If the other critics voted him in, then they have no right to complain. If it was his turn, then they'll just have to wait till his term is over. And recruit a number of new members to make sure White's turn doesn't come around again for a long time.

    I'm a big fan of Mr. White, by the way, and agree with him quite frequently. But I do think that he should have exercised greater decorum at an event like this. As Mr. Aronofsky should have as well. If Mr. Aronofsky hadn't struck the first blow, Mr. White might not have felt compelled to respond.

  • Sergio | January 12, 2011 4:16 AMReply

    Evidently something happened in White's childhood that made him the classless asshole that he is today

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