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Critics and academy in sync

BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards

When it comes to predicting which way Oscar voters are likely to lean, pundits often cite the Golden Globes as a good barometer of those voters’ likely sympathies. But since its founding 17 years ago, the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. and its annual awards show, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, have consistently proven to be a far more reliable predictor of Oscar winners and losers.

As BFCA co-founder Joey Berlin says, “Last year we had 18 out of 20 eventual Oscar acting category awards, and in many of the years before, our show also accurately predicted most of the winners.”

While there are no overlapping BFCA and Academy Award members, the reason for the BFCA’s success rate is mainly to do with demographics, Berlin suggests.

“We’re all professionals in the film business, and we all seem to have very similar tastes, year in, year out, and I also think Oscar voters pay far more attention to (BFCA) reviews and nominations than the average movie fan,” he says. “After all, our members’ job is to analyze and discuss a year’s worth of releases, so their critical consensus is very meaningful for Oscar voters, who are actually in the business of making films, not watching everyone else’s films. So I think they really appreciate being able to rely on the BFCA to help sort out the field.”

BFCA executive VP John De Simio points out that the group’s broad geographical diversity is also a factor.

“Our critics probably have a better sense of what’s really going on across the country, as opposed to critics’ groups in New York or L.A. who’re far more insular in their markets,” says De Simio.

According to Berlin, “Statistically speaking, there is no doubt that the single best thing you can do if you want to get an Oscar nomination is to win a Critics’ Choice Awards nomination first. The parallels are so close.”

In terms of recognizing quality filmmaking, Berlin concedes that the Oscars “are still the gold standard” but stresses that “what we do is a lot closer to the Oscars than the Globes.”

With around 260 full-time members from the U.S. and Canadian markets, the BFCA is arguably the largest film critics group in the world, reflecting a truly diverse body of opinion on all matters cinematic.

“We have three times the membership of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., and we continually monitor our members very closely to make sure that the voting members are all indeed broadcast film critics,” Berlin says. “We add and subtract members continuously.”

While the BFCA’s awards show started out small, it has grown considerably in recent years, and this year’s event will be broadcast live today on VH1 from the Hollywood Palladium.

A-list names attending include Martin Scorsese, who receives the Music+Film Award, and Bob Dylan will perform as part of the Scorsese tribute.

De Simio notes that the show “has always been a fun, brisk event” thanks to its two-hour television slot.

“We don’t want to turn into a bloated broadcast, so we make sure we keep it compact and entertaining.”

“We’ve been on VH1 for five years, and the show’s been televised for the past dozen years, so it just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” says Berlin who’s executive-produced the show since its inception at a small L.A. Hotel.

“We feel we play a very important role in supporting quality filmmaking. If it wasn’t for the whole high-profile awards season in Hollywood, there’d be far less financial incentive for filmmakers to try and make the highest quality films they could.”

CRITICS CHOICE NOMINEES:

PICTURE
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Drive”
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
“The Help”
“Hugo”
“Midnight in Paris”
“Moneyball”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

ACTOR
George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “J. Edgar”
Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Michael Fassbender, “Shame”
Ryan Gosling, “Drive”
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

ACTRESS
Viola Davis, “The Help”
Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Tilda Swinton, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
Charlize Theron, “Young Adult”
Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh, “My Week With Marilyn”
Albert Brooks, “Drive”
Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
Patton Oswalt, “Young Adult”
Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Andrew Serkis, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo, “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain, “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
Carey Mulligan, “Shame”
Octavia Spencer, “The Help”
Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”

DIRECTOR
Stephen Daldry, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Nicolas Winding Refn, “Drive”
Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Steven Spielberg, “War Horse”

BFCA CRITICS’ CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS:
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