The Critics’ Choice Awards, which were handed out by the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. on Jan. 11, could well be a preview of the Academy Awards on March 4. These precursor prizes have a stellar reputation as one of the key precursor prizes leading up to the Oscars. The 300 plus members of the BFCA have foreseen 13 of the most recent 22 Best Picture Oscar winners. And they have done even better at forecasting the outcomes of the other top categories with 17 eventual academy picks for Best Director first winner here. Likewise for 15 Best Actor, 12 Best Actress, 12 Supporting Actor and 15 Supporting Actress Oscar champs.
With many of the Critics’ Choice Awards categories having six slots, they have an edge at foreseeing the eventual five Oscar nominees. Last year, it predicted all five of the directing contenders and 17 of the 20 acting nominees. In 2015 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.
This year’s slate of Critics’ Choice Awards winners was led by “The Shape of Water,” which took home four awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (Guillermo del Toro). That is a big boost for the film, which had reaped a leading 14 bids from the BFCA, after it lost the top prize at the Golden Globes on Sunday.
The Globe pick for Best Film Drama, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” had to settle for the consolation prize of Best Ensemble at the Critics’ Choice Awards. However, both leading lady Frances McDormand and featured player Sam Rockwell repeated their Globe wins here, thereby boosting their Oscar odds.
And while “Get Out” was blanked by the Globes, writer/director Jordan Peele picked up the Original Screenplay prize at the Critics’ Choice Awards. He has dominated the regional film critics awards and is well-positioned at the Oscars where he will face strong challenges from two other multi-hyphenates: Martin McDonagh (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) and Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”).
It was a surprise that “Lady Bird,” which won two Globes on the comedy/musical side — best picture and actress (Saoirse Ronan) — was shut out of these awards despite having eight nominations.The BFCA were enamored with another comedy instead, “I, Tonya,” with that film’s producer and star, Margot Robbie, taking home Best Comedy Actress while Allison Janney edged out “Lady Bird” scene stealer Laurie Metcalf in the Supporting Actress race.
This year’s ceremony was held just one day before Oscar nominations voting closes. Last year, the Critics’ Choice Awards were handed out on Dec. 11. That early date could have worked against these prizes as a predictions precursor. “La La Land” won a whopping eight Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Picture where it contended against seven of its eight Oscar rivals (only “HIdden Figures” was missing). “La La Land” repeated at the Oscars for Director (Damien Chazelle) as well as cinematography, production design, score and song.
While “La La Land” leading lady Emma Stone lost here to Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), she bested her at the Oscars. Eventual Oscar champs 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 11 Critics’ Choice nominees for Best Picture in 2016, 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 the Best Actor nominees at the Oscars first contended here, with Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) winning both awards. Likewise, all five of the year’s Best Actress nominees at the Oscars first contended here, with Brie Larson (“Room”) winning both awards.
And four of the 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 that 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”).
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.