Are Critics’ Choice Awards an Oscars preview?

On Friday evening, the 16th annual edition of the Critics’ Choice Awards took place in Hollywood. Were the winners practicing their Academy Awards acceptance speeches when they took to the stage at the Palladium?

Certainly Best Actor champ Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) will need to find new way to say “thank you” as he is expected to win most of the other precursor awards on his way to the podium at the Kodak Theater. However, Best Actress winner Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) remains locked in a close race with Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”). Both are expected to prevail in their respective categories at the Golden Globes Sunday so we will have to wait for the SAG Awards for a rematch.

The HFPA kudos could crown “The King’s Speech” as Best Drama Picture. Will that be a mere bump in the road for “The Social Network” which has swept the critics prizes this year” “The Hurt Locker” did the same last year — it lost to “Avatar” at the Globes — before prevailing at the Oscars as Best Picture.

Last year, Mo’Nique (“Precious”) and Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds”) won with the BFCA before claiming their Oscars. Could “The Fighter” supporting players Christian Bale and Melissa Leo be equally blessed? The Critics’ Choice Awards certainly have a reputation for the best rate of predicting the eventual Oscar champs.

Over the years, the BFCA roster of acting nominees has had the highest success rate of snagging Oscar bids. However, this statistic, while laudable, is skewed by the BFCA only having three or four slots in each of the acting races for the first eight years of these kudos. This meant that the smaller group of BFCA nominees were more likely to be among the eventual larger pool of Oscar nominees. However, it also lead to the BFCA not even nominating eventual Oscar champs Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”), Denzel Washington (“Training Day”) and Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”).

Conversely, the BFCA has always had 10 nominees for Best Picture thus ensuring that almost all of their contenders ended up competing at the Oscars for the five Best Picture slots. Last year marked the first time since 1944 that the Academy Awards also had 10 nominees. Of the 11 BFCA Best Picture nominees, 9 of them — including “The Hurt Locker” which won with both groups — went on to Oscar nominations. While the BFCA nominated both “Invictus” and “Nine,” AMPAS filled out its roster with “The Blind Side.”

Besides last year, the BFCA has predicted eight of the past 14 Best Picture Oscar winners. Over the 15-year history of the BFCA, it has forecast 10 Actor, nine Actress, eight Supporting Actress and seven Supporting Actor Oscar winners. They went four for four last year, although last year’s Best Actress Oscar winner Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) did tie with Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”) at the BFCA.  

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