Armond White, the film critic for the New York Press and chair of this year's New York Film Critics Circle Awards, kept insulting everybody at last night's award ceremony, prompting Annette Bening to issue a teary-eyed appeal for peace.
Armond White is something of a character in the New York film world. He is a very angry critic who feels very passionately about movies and tends to hate what everyone else likes and like what everyone else hates. He once wrote, in reviewing Noah Baumbach's Mr. Jealousy, that Baumbach's "film-reviewer mother" should have had a "retroactive abortion," whatever that means. He's that sort of guy.
So when you put him on stage at an awards ceremony for some of the folks he ravages so passionately in print, expect sparks! Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky actually started things last night, when he told White from the stage, "You give us all another reason not to read New York Press." That may have been a response to White's review of Black Swan, which accused Aronofsky of "ethnic denial" and went on to discuss how much better Kanye West's video for "Runaway" was. But it was all in good fun, according to one person who was there: "Aronofsky was saying this stuff with a smile. He was riffing."
But White is not "the Don Rickles of film criticism," so his responses came off as "pompous and scolding," the attendee says. Another person who was there describes it as "a mess—Armond broke the bank on insulting award winners he didn't agree with."
Like when he insulted Michelle Williams by introducing her with praise for her role in 2004's Land of Plenty, which got mixed reviews. "I made that movie almost 10 years ago," Williams said from the stage, according to people who were there. "I can't imagine what you've said about me since then if you had to go back that far to say something nice."
White also introduced playwright Tony Kushner, who was there to award The Social Network best picture, by saying, "Maybe he can explain why it won best picture." Because Armond White did not like that movie! Classy guy.
White did publicly express his gratitude to the assembled critics for their failure to award any honors to Noah Baumbach's Greenberg. Short of a retroactive abortion, that's really all he could ask for.
At the end of the evening, Annette Bening got emotional and called for peace when she accepted her award for best actress for The Kids Are Alright: "Bening, tearfully, came close to lecturing critics for being mean little shits," one attendee said. Said another: "She said something like, 'Can't we all just get along?'"
We asked White for his thoughts on the evening, and haven't heard back.
Full disclosure: My wife edits the film section for the Village Voice, a paper that used to compete with the New York Press but has since basically won. Or maybe they both lost.
[Photo via Getty]