The Critics Choice Awards were handed out on March 7, one week after the Golden Globes kicked off the televised awards season. Like the Globes, these awards don’t have any voters in common with the Oscars, so most of their influence comes from building momentum for and giving a major televised platform to films and performers as academy members are marking their ballots (Oscar voting started on March 5). So who got a bump? Here’s how I think the trajectory is shifting after this event.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — Chadwick Boseman‘s posthumous victory for Best Actor was no surprise, but the film came away as one of the night’s bigger winners overall with three trophies since it was also honored for its costumes and its hair/makeup. For an intimate stage-to-screen character piece to be embraced for its below-the-line crafts could help it across the board.
“Nomadland” — It won Best Picture. At Critics Choice, that’s sometimes more a sign of where the momentum currently is as opposed to where the race is going — for instance, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” won last year fresh off a Golden Globes windfall, but didn’t win the top Oscar. However, Critics Choice has called the eventual Oscar winner in a few tight races in recent years: the two groups agreed on “12 Years a Slave” (2013), “Spotlight” (2015) and “The Shape of Water” (2017). So at the very least the film is holding steady as the Oscar front-runner as we wait for more tea leaves.
“Promising Young Woman” — After it was shut out at the Globes, it surged here with two victories: Best Actress for Carey Mulligan and, more surprisingly, Best Original Screenplay for Emerald Fennell, who upset front-runner Aaron Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” They could both be potential Oscar winners come April.
“The Father” — Another shutout for the heart-tugging film. Anthony Hopkins continued to be overwhelmed by support for Boseman in Best Actor. Olivia Colman lost Best Supporting Actress to Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”). It didn’t win for its writing or editing either, despite its tricky narrative structure in telling the story of a man suffering from dementia.
“Mank” — It was the nominations leader with 12 bids, but it only came away with one win: Best Production Design. Supporting actress Amanda Seyfried was bested by the aforementioned Bakalova. It also lost to “Nomadland” for its cinematography and to the aforementioned “Ma Rainey” for its costumes. So far awards groups seem highly impressed by the film’s artistic prowess when it comes to nominations, but haven’t been passionate enough to give it many wins.
“News of the World” — The critics blanked the Tom Hanks Western. Even Helena Zengel, competing in Best Young Actor/Actress after scoring nominations against grown-up thespians at the Globes and SAG Awards, was upset by “Minari” scene-stealer Alan Kim. As with “Mank,” we have yet to see significant passion materialize for this film on the awards campaign trail.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” — It won two significant awards, Best Acting Ensemble and Best Editing. But the Oscars don’t have a category for ensemble casts, so that victory can’t carry over. It’s Sorkin’s aforementioned loss in the writing category that’s especially noteworthy here because nothing stands out from a Sorkin movie quite like its crackling dialogue and courtroom oratories. But critics gave it a pass.
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“Minari” — Yuh-Jung Youn lost Best Supporting Actress, but Kim balanced that out with his young acting victory. And once again the film was recognized as Best Foreign Language Film, a category it’s not eligible for at the Oscars since it’s an American production. So neither of those wins can carry over to the Academy Awards. But they do show significant support for the film. And getting 10 nominations here in the first place was a coup since it’s a small-scale family drama not expected to be competitive in too many below-the-line categories. So the film didn’t get a boost from these awards, but I don’t think it was seriously wounded either.
“One Night in Miami“ — It won Best Original Song for Leslie Odom Jr.‘s “Speak Now,” which gave the actor the chance to accept a trophy after losing both of his nominations at last week’s Globes. That was it, though, so not a lot of movement for this film one way or the other.
“Sound of Metal“ — Riz Ahmed didn’t manage to upset Boseman for Best Actor, but the film did pick up a surprise trophy for its editing, where it tied with “Trial of the Chicago 7.” That’s all it won, but the editing category is so important to the Oscars (few films win Best Picture without being nominated for that award) that its victory here might be significant.
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