Critics Choice nominations: Who’s up and who’s down in the Oscar race?

The Critics Choice Awards announced their film nominations on Wednesday, December 14, and they were even more generous than usual, nominating 11 films for Best Picture and 10 films for Best Director. And they nominated almost all of the top contenders in our Oscar odds. But which films had the best showings, and which struggled in spite of all the available real estate? Read on for my analysis of who’s up, who’s down, and who’s in about the same position they were before.

UP

Babylon — Its five Golden Globe nominations weren’t too surprising since the Globes have separate categories for comedies and musicals, but the fact that it doubled that number to secure 10 here is a real coup. It earned a Best Picture nom, swept the craft categories, and even secured Damien Chazelle a slot for Best Director. That’s a huge haul from a critics group for a film that proved divisive upon its initial screenings.

Everything Everywhere All at Once — For an independent film to out-perform some big-budget spectacles for the most nominations (14) is a remarkable achievement. It not only swept its categories above the line (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Acting Ensemble, and four individual acting bids), it also more than held its own in craft contests, receiving noms for its production design, editing, costume design, hair and makeup, and visual effects. Pretty good for a relatively low-budget production.

The Fabelmans — It did well at the Golden Globes, earning five nominations including Best Film Drama and Best Director (Steven Spielberg), but it fell short in the Best Supporting Actor race. Not a problem here. The film received the second most noms overall (11) including for both of its supporting men (Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch). Its only significant miss was Best Editing, but that’s the worst you can say about this film’s Critics Choice showing.

“Women Talking” — It didn’t dominate the Critics Choice Awards like the above films. It received a solid six nominations. But after its shortfall at the Golden Globes, getting into Best Picture, Best Director (Sarah Polley), and Best Supporting Actress (Jessie Buckley) here was a major vote of confidence.

DOWN

“She Said” — The Critics Choice Awards have so many damn nomination slots that it’s hard to find a major contender that significantly missed out. But “She Said” sadly qualifies. At the Golden Globes, it only received a supporting actress nom for Carey Mulligan, but here — where there were 11 slots for Best Picture, 10 for Best Director, and six for Best Supporting Actress — it only managed a bid for Best Adapted Screenplay.

ABOUT THE SAME

“Avatar: The Way of Water” — Six nominations is relatively modest for a gigantic sci-fi spectacle like this one, which got fewer nominations below the line than the low-budget “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but its bids for Best Picture and Best Director (James Cameron) keep the film in good fighting shape for the rest of the awards season.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” — It didn’t get the most nominations like it did at the Golden Globes, but it received all the bids at Critics Choice that it picked up at the Globes save Best Score, and it supplemented that loss with noms for Best Acting Ensemble and Best Comedy. Its total of nine nominations keeps it steady near the top of the Oscar race for Best Picture.

“Top Gun: Maverick” — As with “Avatar,” the six nominations for “Top Gun” here were perhaps a little soft, but it made it in for Best Picture and Tom Cruise was recognized for Best Actor. In addition, it didn’t miss in any of the below-the-line categories where it was considered strongest: it’s up for its cinematography, editing, and visual effects, plus Lady Gaga‘s original song “Hold My Hand.”

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