A reliable source tells us that the New York Film Critics Circle's choice of The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow as Best Picture and Best Director was not the result of a particularly contentious voting session, with Up in the Air coming in second for Picture and Fantastic Mr. Fox's Wes Anderson the runner-up for Director.
The one heated race was for Screenplay, which went all the way to a third ballot. The award finally went to In the Loop, but Up in the Air apparently also had strong support, perhaps because its fans were dismayed that it had lost in the Best Picture category. However, there was also a strong group of critics who wanted to keep Up in the Air out of the loop. (“There were a lot of visual daggers being thrown,” our source says.) Other serious contenders for the Screenplay award were Inglourious Basterds, The Messenger, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Another close category was Best Actor, which was a pretty close call between Up in the Air's George Clooney and Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (Clooney won). There also appeared to be a lot of passion in the Best Non-Fiction Film category, which Of Time and the City narrowly won over Anvil! The Story of Anvil. There was also a lot of support for Tyson — but there were also some who definitely did not want that doc to win, both because of the controversial subject matter and also because its director, James Toback, isn’t the most beloved figure among some New York critics.
Other categories were decided easily, with Julie & Julia's Meryl Streep winning Best Actress pretty quickly (leaving behind Julia's Tilda Swinton, An Education's Carey Mulligan and Antichrist's Charlotte Gainsbourg, among others). Fantastic Mr. Fox’s Best Animated Film win was also quick, with Up and Coraline finishing as also-rans.