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Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Voted On By Those ‘Who Actually Watch’

'12 Years,' 'Gravity' compete for top prize at annual awards

A lot of people complain there are too many awards shows, but Broadcast Film Critics Assn. prexy Joey Berlin says their kudos provide “a valuable service to the industry, and we are proud to do it.”

The annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards is well-attended by industry folk. It’s a fairly reliable Academy Awards omen, it’s a good event for schmoozing and campaigning, and it’s broadcast on TV (this year, on the CW network). But many of the attendees have no idea who actually votes on these awards.

The 19-year-old org has more than 280 members, from broadcast TV, radio and online. “We are the industry people in the trenches reporting on what’s upcoming in each medium (film and TV). Of course Oscars and Emmys are the gold standards. But those are voted on by your peers, who are off working much of the time” and thus unable to see the flood of awards hopefuls. “We’re the ones who actually watch all of these contenders, so wanted to weigh in.”

With 28 categories, the BFCA hands out even more awards than the Academy. They include most of the Acad races, except for shorts and sound. They include separate acting categories for comedy and action films, but those actors are also eligible for the overall acting award. “As a populist organization, we think comedy should be recognized, and we also added action and sci-fi/horror. These are genres that moviegoers love,” and Berlin says it’s a reminder that good work doesn’t have to be in a “serious” film.

Berlin co-founded the org in 1995 with Rod Lurie, then a critic but now a filmmaker (“The Contender”). The two gathered about 45 people, mostly those they knew from junkets. “We talk to filmmakers year-round and thought it would be cool to pool our collective wisdom.” So they held their first awards event three weeks later.

Berlin says the biggest percentage of members are from TV, though he didn’t have exact figures. They’re mostly from the U.S. and Canada and also rep a strong radio contingent and Internet outlets.

Adds Berlin, “But we have a pretty high bar of the audience you need to reach, so we don’t become the Online Film Critics Assn.”

The geographic breakdown, he says, is one-third from Southern California, one-sixth from the New York metropolitan area and about half from everywhere else in the country.

BFCA voters nomination ballots include all categories with three blank spaces (five for best pic). Voting is weighted, with three points for first choice, two for second and one for third.

Accounting firm CMM tallies the totals.

The org also holds Critics’ Choice TV Awards in June (with exact date and place TBD.)

That will also be broadcast on the CW, and there is a little overlap in membership between the two groups, but not much.

The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards will be held the evening of Jan. 16 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, meaning a long day for everyone who awoke pre-dawn for the Oscar nominations. Berlin says the CW was a big factor in dates and that the organization wanted to hold awards before the Golden Globes, which were held Jan. 12.

“The Globes are a big deal,” says Berlin. “And coming after them will increase the visibility of our show, which is better for us and better for our members.”

Tipsheet:

What: Critics Choice Movie Awards

When: 8 p.m. , Jan. 16

Where: Barker Hangar, Santa Monica

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