×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Critics’ Choice Awards Go Early, but Is It a Bang or a Whimper?

The Broadcast Film Critics Assn. shifted the entire calendar for the annual Critics’ Choice Awards up a month this year in order to capitalize on being first out of the gate with a critical assessment of the year’s filmmaking accomplishments. An early voting deadline in November meant the group (of which I am a member) could preempt the New York and Los Angeles film critics’ announcements, while a mid-December ceremony gave them a major jump on the Golden Globe Awards (the competition, as BFCA brass sees it).

However, this also meant there was no time to screen Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” considered in some quarters one of the year’s finest films, for the nationwide membership. Same for late-breaking blockbuster fare like “Passengers” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which might have found a home in some of the BFCA’s genre categories.

The group is slightly embattled lately, on the heels of shoe-horning last year’s Lucasfilm entry, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” into the best picture category after the fact, as well as key members of sister group the Broadcast Television Journalists Assn. resigning in protest to a partnership with Entertainment Weekly last month. Thankfully, there was no such move to insinuate “Rogue One” into the picture this time around. Meanwhile, requests to screen “Silence” for only a portion of the membership, in New York and Los Angeles, were declined out of fairness.

So the scandals were more or less behind them as the BFCA/BTJA set out to honor the year’s best film and TV at a Santa Monica ceremony Sunday night. Well…all but telecast host T.J. Miller’s arrest for getting physical with a Trump-supporting Uber driver Friday. (Speaking of which, the show’s writers might have overestimated awareness of that episode: Attempts to address the arrest were met with muffled, bewildered laughter.)

The big winner at the end of the night was Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” and it’s no surprise, given that the film is a consensus favorite this year primed for Academy Awards. In the world of Oscar prognostication, if the Critics’ Choice Awards are good for anything it’s seeing how a broad group of people respond to the year in film; that’s in part why their choices have so often lined up with the Academy’s.

Chazelle’s film also won prizes for director, original screenplay (in a tie with “Manchester by the Sea”), cinematography, editing, production design, song and score. That doesn’t quite topple “Mad Max: Fury Road’s” nine-trophy haul last year, but it’s good enough to make “La La Land” the second-most awarded film in Critics’ Choice history.

As ever, a number of winners were announced as commercial bumpers, including the screenplay categories, which best actor winner Casey Affleck thought it worth pointing out. “That seems like a funny thing to skip over considering none of us would be here without that,” he said, adding: “They probably would write some interesting speeches.” But alas, you can only squeeze so much in when you’re handing out film and television awards as well as a slew of genre prizes aimed at beefing up the celebrity profile of the show.

However, it appeared some of those celebrities didn’t bother to show. But the BFCA found extra star wattage in “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds, who took the stage not once but three times: to accept the best actor in a comedy prize, to bask in the film’s overall win in the comedy movie category (somehow edging out more critically acclaimed movies — go figure) and to collect an Entertainment Weekly-branded Entertainer of the Year honor.

On the TV side, it was interesting to note that Netflix’s “The Crown,” FX’s “Atlanta,” and HBO’s “Westworld” all picked up their first-ever prizes, lest the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. seize upon their usual kingmaker status first. John Lithgow (best supporting actor), Donald Glover (best actor in a comedy series), and Evan Rachel Wood/Thandie Newton (best actress/supporting actress) won for each respective program. Given the mass defections, though, one wonders how the overall TV vote was affected.

So indeed, congratulations to the Critics’ Choice Awards for being “FIRST!” The question with the early jump, however, is whether it will actually provide the exposure the group is hoping for, or if it will be too much too soon. The BFCA had a nice groove going for the handful of years the ceremony was held on the same day the Oscar nominations were announced. They ended up with dibs on the first red (er, blue) carpet walked by many newly minted nominees, as handlers were eager for their talent to attend and take the dive into phase two campaigning.

But tomorrow’s Golden Globe nominations will overwhelm all awards coverage, with the Screen Actors Guild announcing just two days later. Will Sunday night feel more like a distant rehearsal than early standard-setting when the season finally times out?

Other prizes of note: “The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” Game of Thrones,” and “Silicon Valley” won the top TV categories. Actor Lakeith Stanfield interrupted the the latter’s presentation in what appeared to be a bit of a protest on behalf of his show “Atlanta.”

Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”), Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), and Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”) won other top performance categories.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content