Every year, contrarian critic Armond White finds a way to steal the spotlight from the actual winners at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, and last night was no exception. During Steve McQueen’s acceptance speech for Best Director for 12 Years a Slave, somebody heckled the filmmaker, yelling out comments such as, “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man,” “Fuck you,” “Kiss my ass,” and “Pulease!” (That last comment came just after McQueen thanked the group for its support.) But was it White, who had previously made his non-support for 12 Years a Slave known when he called it “torture porn”?
It’s his MO — we’ve witnessed him heckling people at this very event in years past. But last night, we couldn’t see (or hear) with certainty, given his position in the back of the room. A Variety reporter said it was White. And Slate critic Dana Stevens, who was at White’s table, confirmed on her Twitter feed, “Those things and more were said,” but she wasn’t sure if it was by White, “or one of his boorish cohort” who had been “drunk and heckling at a lesser level the whole time.” Indeed, in all the noise and confusion, it could very well have been one of White’s friends, and not White himself this time. However, when Vulture asked White for clarification afterward, he just glared at us as he walked out accompanied by a stumbling associate. If he had a statement to make, he was done for the night.