Critics’ Choice Awards winners: ‘La La Land’ leaps further ahead in Oscar race

On Sunday (Dec. 11), Oscar frontrunner “La La Land” won a whopping eight Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Picture. Among its closest Oscar rivals, “Manchester by the Sea” took home three prizes while “Moonlight” claimed two. See the complete list of Critics’ Choice winners for film.

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These awards bestowed by the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. (BFCA) are renowned as one of the best barometers for predicting the Oscars. Over their 21-year history these kudos have previewed 13 Best Picture Oscar winners as well as 16 Best Director, 14 Best Actor, 12 Best Actress, 11 Supporting Actor and 14 Supporting Actress champs.

That track record is good news for “La La Land” helmer Damien Chazelle who also won at these precursor prizes and somewhat reassuring for his leading lady, Emma Stone, who was bested by her closest Oscar rival, Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) here.

Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) solidified their frontrunner status in the lead and supporting acting races with wins here as did featured player Viola Davis (“Fences”) on the distaff side.

Of the 27 categories at these kudos, 18 of them mirror those of the Academy Awards; the other nine are for genres such as action, comedy and sci-fi films and performances as well as for younger actor/actress and ensemble. “La La Land” contended here in a dozen races that have Oscar equivalents while “Arrival” competed in nine (it was also up for Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie, which it won). Both “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” dropped down by two bids to eight and six respectively as their ensembles were nominated as were Alex R. Hibbert  and Lucas Hedges in Younger Actor/Actress; “Moonlight” won the former while “Manchester’s” Hedges won the latter.

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With many of the Critics’ Choice Awards categories having six slots, they have an edge at foreseeing the eventual five Oscar nominees. Indeed, last year these kudos forecast 30 of the 33 Oscar nominees (91%) in the top six races, missing only the “The Big Short” surge by director Adam McKay and supporting actor Christian Bale as well as the bid by “Room” helmer Lenny Abrahamson.

Of last year’s 11 Critics’ Choice nominees for Best Picture, all but “Carol,” “Sicario” and last-minute addition “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” reaped Oscar bids for Best Picture. “Spotlight” won over the critics first before prevailing at the Oscars. All five of last year’s Best Actor nominees at the Oscars first contended here, with Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) winning both awards. Likewise, all five of last year’s Best Actress nominees at the Oscars first contended here, with Brie Larson (“Room”) winning both awards.

Four of last year’s six Critics’ Choice nominees for Best Supporting Actor went on to contend at the Oscars. While Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) won this race at the Critics’ Choice, he lost the Oscar to Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”). As with the two lead races, all five of last year’s Oscar nominees for Best Supporting Actress contended first at these awards. Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) won both prizes.

In both 2014 and 2015 the BFCA nominated just three directors who went on to be Oscar nominees and in each instance went with someone other than eventual back-to-back Oscar winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu who prevailed first for “Birdman” and then “The Revenant.” In 2014, the Critics’ Choice champ was Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) while last year it was George Miller (“Mad Max: Fury Road”).

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