The Critics Choice Awards announced their film nominees on February 8, so how does their lineup affect the Oscar race? Well, the organization comprises more than 400 entertainment journalists, so like the Golden Globes they don’t have any membership overlap with the motion picture academy. That means these nominations don’t necessarily indicate the preferences of Oscar voters, but they do help strengthen or stall the momentum of certain films. More than most awards groups, Critics Choice openly prides itself on predicting the Oscars, so these nomination can give us a sense of where they think the overall awards season stands. Here’s how I think things look now. Check out the complete list of nominees here.
“Mank” — David Fincher‘s showbiz biopic has experienced more twists and turns in six days than any other movie. It topped the Golden Globe nominations, then it underperformed in the SAG nominations. Now it’s back on top again with 12 Critics Choice bids. It’s in the Best Picture race, Amanda Seyfried rallied with a Best Supporting Actress nom after her SAG snub, and the film has numerous below-the-line crafts nominations, as it’s also likely to have at the Oscars. But the only major industry group that has chimed in so far is SAG, which is where the film had its poorest showing so far, so we’ll have to keep an eye on this one.
“Minari” — It’s no surprise that “Mank” got a dozen nominations with its high production values, but the fact that a smaller-scale indie like “Minari” also scored nominations in the double digits (10) is a coup. Critics Choice nominated it for Best Picture, Best Director (Lee Isaac Chung), Best Actor (Steven Yeun), Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-Jung Youn), Best Young Actor/Actress (Alan Kim), Best Original Screenplay (Chung), and Best Acting Ensemble. It even made the cut in two crafts categories, for its cinematography and score. This is a huge vote of confidence in the film.
“News of the World” — The Paul Greengrass Western has been on the bubble this season. Last week Helena Zengel scored Globe and SAG noms for her supporting performance, and the film’s score was also nominated at the Globes. But that’s it. Here, the film is nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor (Tom Hanks) among its seven total bids. That gives it a boost in momentum as the awards season progresses.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — It was nominated for its lead actors Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis at the Globes and SAG Awards, and SAG also nominated the ensemble cast. But Critics Choice cements it as more than just an acting vehicle. It’s the third most nominated film with eight bids, including Best Picture and recognition for its writing, costumes, production design and hair/makeup.
“Sound of Metal” — Lead actor Riz Ahmed was the film’s only nomination at the Globes and SAG Awards. Now the film as a whole asserts itself as an all-around contender with additional Critics Choice noms for Best Picture, Paul Raci‘s supporting performance, and the film’s writing and editing. All of that strengthens Ahmed’s case as a potential Best Actor Oscar winner.
“The Father” — The thing about Critics Choice is that they tend to hedge their bets with extra nominations per category (this year there are eight Best Actor contenders) to better predict the Oscars. So they make a point of not under-representing a major contender if they can help it. But after “The Father” earned a Best Picture nomination at the Golden Globes, these awards left it off their list in that top category, though it still got unsurprising noms for writing, editing and Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman‘s performances.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” — It didn’t miss in any top categories: it’s up for Best Picture, Best Director (Aaron Sorkin), Best Original Screenplay (Sorkin) and Best Supporting Actor (Sacha Baron Cohen). But it is a little surprising that the film’s only recognition below the line is for its editing. The period drama missed in production design, costume, hair/makeup, score and song categories. Only a slight shortfall, but a shortfall nevertheless. I doubt this hurts the film very much in the long run.
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“Da 5 Bloods” — The Globes snubbed the film entirely. The SAG Awards nominated the cast and the late Boseman for his supporting role, but snubbed Delroy Lindo. Now Critics Choice has nominated the film for Best Picture plus Boseman and Lindo. However, with an aforementioned eight Best Actor nominees, one has to wonder if Lindo would still have been nominated if that list had been narrowed to five, as the Oscars will be. There’s reason to be optimistic for the film, but cautiously so.
“Nomadland” — It has six nominations, half as many as “Mank,” but it hasn’t missed anywhere it’s been expected to get in so far this season. Here, it’s up for Best Picture, Best Director (Chloe Zhao), Best Adapted Screenplay (Zhao) and Best Actress (Frances McDormand). For an early Oscar front-runner, I think it might actually be good for the film to avoid an outright domination of the precursor awards. That might keep its underdog appeal alive and avoid the front-runner backlash that has befallen other recent films like “La La Land” (2016) and “Roma” (2018).
“One Night in Miami” — Like “Nomadland,” this film got what it needed here with a nomination for Best Picture plus bids for Regina King‘s directing, Kemp Powers‘s writing and Leslie Odom Jr.‘s acting and songwriting. It remains on course for the Oscars.
“Promising Young Woman” — After the Golden Globes established this film as more than just a Best Actress contender with additional nominations for writing, directing and Best Picture, Critics Choice has done exactly the same, plus a somewhat surprising nom for the film’s hair/makeup. The film looks just as promising as it did last week.
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