To kick off the first ceremony of Awards Season 2016, many of the Big Apple's top movie critics gathered—following the first full workday back after the New Year holiday, we might add—at Tao Downtown to toast to 14 winners of its 81st Annual New York Film Critics Circle Awards. "Wow, actors and critics in the same room, I don't know how I feel about this," joked presenter Susan Sarandon. Turns out, there was not a hard feeling in the room. The ceremony had a relaxed, jovial, insider feel, which was important because the four-course meal of various pan-Asian delights was served family style—so friendships had to form fast.
One friendship on display for all to see was the one between Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart. Moore presented Stewart with the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in the drama, Clouds of Sils Maria. Moore's heartfelt speech about the 25-year-old moved Stewart to tears. "Kristen brings an intensity and truthfulness to absolutely everything in her life—her work, her friendships, and her relationships with the world," said Moore, who gave Stewart a kiss on the cheek before taking the stage.
"She has managed to become a global star, while remaining very much herself with her talent intact," Moore continued. "I've been very, very close to that talent, and that's when you can tell if someone is faking it and, believe me, she's not. I've seen her skin flush with emotion, I've wiped tears off her face, and experienced the sheer pleasure of connecting with her as an actor, all the while knowing that that is the connection everyone in the audience is feeling as well... She is my friend, and I love her." Stewart's response? "That was really sweet," she said, wiping away teards. "It means a lot more to receive this from you. I received a lot of MTV popcorn and stuff like that, and this is a little different. Thanks babe."
Saoirse Ronan was also crowned a winner, receiving the Best Actress award for her role in the coming-of-age immigrant tale, Brooklyn. "I feel honored in every way to be honored by New Yorkers," said the 21-year-old, dressed in a body-hugging Victoria Beckham LBD that slowed her walking to the stage to a crawl. "I know how tough you are. 'Cause I'm from here. I was born in the Bronx, you know. Saoirse from the Block is what they call me," she joked.
Ronan then instructed the whole room to get back to eating dessert, and they did just that as the awards continued. See the full list of winners of the 81st Annual New York Film Critics Circle Awards below.
Best Picture: Carol
Best Actor: Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Best Director: Todd Haynes, Carol
Best Screenplay: Carol
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Best Supporting Actress: Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria
Best Animated Film: Inside Out
Best Cinematography: Edward Lachman, Carol
Best First Film: Son of Saul
Best Foreign Film: Timbuktu
Best Nonfiction Film: In Jackson Heights
Special Award: Posthumous award honoring the legacy of William Becker and Janus Films
Special Award: Ennio Morricone, composer