The New York Film Critics Circle announced their winners today and the Spirit Awards also released their list of nominees which means the Oscar races are starting to take shape. The NBR will reveal on Thursday, and more and more critics circles will follow in the coming days and weeks, giving a clearer picture of what to expect from the Academy but the purpose of what happened today in New York, as they intended, was to blow out of the gate first. And so far we’re seeing some momentum shifts.

More detailed and insightful analyses can be found from other outlets. Here though are my initial observations:

I noted before, over a month ago, that they’re trying to make Martha Marcy May Marlene this year’s An Education and Winter’s Bone and that I wasn’t feeling it. Click here if you missed my post on that. And, frankly, as I’ve also said before, I don’t think Elizabeth Olsen is in the same category, yet, as Carey Mulligan and Jennifer Lawrence. The Gotham Awards last night did not recognise MMMM. And the NYFCC didn’t either. She did get called for a Spirit Award nomination but I don’t know if that’s enough to counterbalance the film not getting much love from the other two. Everyone’s been calling for months for Olsen to claim one of the 5 Best Actress spots for Oscar. That’s still possible, of course, but right now, she’s lost some ground. And if it were up to me, I’d say 5 others are more deserving of it than she is: Streep, Williams, Davis, Close, and Theron.

Interestingly enough though, it wasn’t a great day for Glenn Close either. Her cast-mate Janet McTeer was nominated for a Spirit Award for Albert Nobbs, but Glenn was left off the list entirely. Remember, she’s supposed to be going head to head with Meryl Streep. Not seeing her on the Spirit Awards list was surprising.

As for Meryl, I have a bet going with my producer Morley about her chances this year. Morley is convinced she’ll finally win her third. Look, people love Meryl so much they’ll eat her sh-t, and I love Meryl as much as the next person but there’s something about her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady that isn’t striking with me. For sure, I’ll have to see the film before I can decide for sure, but I’m definitely not in line with Morley when he says that she’s a slamdunk lock for it ahead of both Viola Davis and Michelle Williams. The NYFCC named her Best Actress. And that is certainly a step in the right direction. BUT they also named Annette Bening their Best Actress last year. Oscar eventually went to Natalie Portman. The year before they chose her for Julia & Julia. I’m just saying the NYFCC isn’t the most accurate prognosticator for this category.

For the critics in New York, The Artist was the most outstanding film of the year. And its director Michel Hazanavicius the Best Director. But for Best Actor? They went with Brad Pitt over the star of The Artist, Jean Dujardin. Brad was recognised for his work in both Moneyball and The Tree of Life. Given how much they loved The Artist though, isn’t it intriguing that they chose Pitt over Dujardin?

If today’s selections from the NYFCC are any indication, with screenplay going to Moneyball too, Moneyball and The Artist are moving well ahead to secure 2 of the Best Picture nomination spots while The Descendants, which everyone was jizzing over, was totally shut out.

Again, there are still many, many more critics circles and board and review associations to announce. This is by no means a lockdown. But at this point, they may as well set aside two seats in the front row at the Kodak for the Brange.

Am rushing to get on a plane for Calgary. More thoughts later. But do share yours with me. Can’t wait to hear from you.