Critics' Choice Winners and Oscar Contenders

At the Movies Blog

The 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards was a blast. Of course, I’m biased. I was at the event, and I am a voting member. 

This is the second year Taye Diggs hosted, and while I didn’t think he was that funny last year, he killed it this time. The jokes were all solid, and the bit where he does movie trivia with people in the crowd was hysterical. I truly think Jennifer Lopez was confused by the segment which made it better. One of the funniest guys on the planet — Keegan Michael-Key (who was there to give an award to Eddie Murphy) — was the best at playing along with the bit. I was thrilled that at one point I got to tell him, “Keanu was the funniest movie.” 

He replied, “Hey, thank you so much, my friend.” I added, “I’m the only movie critic in the country that put it on my Top 10 list the year it came out.” He threw his head back and laughed. I said, “Why do critics’ lists have to always be filled with stuffy, artsy films? A good comedy is hard to do.”

Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood won four awards, which was the most of the night. Tarantino had walked by me a few times. I was going to tell him I was sad to hear about the passing of Robert Forster. He revitalized his career by casting him in Jackie Brown (easily the most underrated of Tarantino films). Instead I merely said, “I liked ‘Once Upon a Time’ because I was born in 1969.” He said, “Hey, thanks man! Glad to hear it.”

Brad Pitt won for his role in that, but wasn’t there to accept it.

1917 won three awards. My wife and I both felt that film was lacking.

I was happy Rene Zellwegger won for Judy. Her performance is great. My wife ended up going up and talking to her about Bridget Jones Diary. I was surprised that, playing Bridget she gained weight and was chubby. She now doesn’t have an ounce of body fat on her, and her arms were rather muscular.

Joaquin Phoenix won for Joker, and while he was great in the part, I was lukewarm on the film. When I spoke with him before the show, I merely said “I know it was annoying to deal with all the violence controversy but what surprised me was using the Gary Glitter song [he’s a known child molester]. He put his head back and said, “No, because…that’s the kind of song he’d listen to.”

Not sure about that logic, but I didn’t debate it with him.

I was glad that when he won he gave a great acceptance speech about his mom always supporting him. He also mentioned the vegan menu for the evening, which we weren’t fond of. I was more along the lines of Seth Myers, the first presenter of the evening, when he said something like, “With vegan food choices, it’s good these are film critics and not food critics.”

But hey — The Counter had some “impossible” burgers, along with real ones that were delicious. 

I was happy Laura Dern won playing the feisty lawyer in Marriage Story. I just wish her dad would have gotten some love for his supporting role in The Mustang, the most overlooked movie this year behind Luce.

Last year there was a tie between Lady Gaga and Glenn Close (I voted for Close in The Wife). This year there was a tie in the Best Director race — between Sam Mendes (1917) and Bong Joon Ho (Parasite). My vote went for Bong, the South Korean director who keeps giving us interesting films.

I vote on the movies, not the TV shows, and don’t follow a lot of the TV stuff. I was happy to see Billy Crudup win for The Morning Show, as he’s one of those underrated actors that is often overlooked (find his movie The Thin Ice with Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin; he’s brilliant in it).

Fleabag won most of the awards, and we laughed at how a few from the cast were the ones that showed up with dyed red hair or other wacky outfits.

I was also happy that Molly Shannon got nominated for her TV show, because it gave me a chance to tell her how much I loved her indie movie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. We spent a few minutes talking about it, and she said, “Isn’t it great that an event like this gives us a chance to meet and talk about these things?”

I couldn’t agree more.

A lot of the speeches were wonderful, as they were last year.

Key gave a great introduction, before handing the Lifetime Achievement Award to Eddie Murphy. We got to see clips of Murphy’s great career who was self deprecating about it, while talking about the time he played a spaceship. He said, “When young actors ask me for advice, I say ‘Don’t play a spaceship!’ ”

My wife ran into comedian Sebastian Maniscalco and told him how great he was in The Irishman. We had met him last year at a party for Green Book, and it was cool that he got to riff on stage for a few minutes before presenting an award. When the cast of his film won “best ensemble” — Harvey Keitel gave a speech after the show went to commercial. It was all about “small parts” and we were in stitches.

Speaking of comedians, I was thrilled to talk with JB Smoove after he came off stage. I was going into KOGO studios to do a movie review on the air a few months ago, when he was walking out after an interview on KGB. I took a photo with him and had him sign my book at his show that night. He pointed at me and said, “I remember you” before giving me a big hug. We talked a bit about his show, and my wife was telling him where to buy the sweet brown bread they give you for free at The Cheesecake Factory. That got him going into his bit about it, which cracked us up.

My wife saw Jenny Slate walk by her, and she tried looking for me, since we have a joke about Slate being my “hall pass.” I was hoping she wouldn’t bring that up to her, but she had a few martinis and I was sure she was going to. Luckily, when I ran into Slate later in the evening when the wife was in the bathroom…I just told her how much I loved Obvious Child and she thanked me. No need to embarrass her with talk about hall passes (especially since she was holding hands with her fiance). 

While my wife was at the bathroom, she ran into Awkwafina who is from Flushing, NY – with a name like that, you can understand why Awkwafina was receptive when my wife said her grandmother lived there for years. She asked if my wife’s grandmother had ever gone to her grandfather’s restaurant. Turns out, it was her favorite Chinese restaurant!

It’s crazy how many people my wife was meeting when I wasn’t around. What pained me the most was Adam Devine. At a Critics’ Choice awards years ago, he and I talked a lot about Workaholics, which was a funny show he did. She told him we liked Jexi and he seemed surprised that we even saw it, let alone gave it a decent review.

The winners of the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards with my usual editorializing:

BEST PICTURE

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (which didn’t even make my Top 10 this year)

BEST ACTOR

Joaquin Phoenix – Joker (great performance, flawed movie).

BEST ACTRESS

Renée Zellweger – Judy (she got my vote)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (my wife said the scene with him on the roof without his shirt on, warrants the win)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Laura Dern – Marriage Story (my pick, although my favorite supporting actress this year was Octavia Spencer for Luce)

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

Roman Griffin Davis – Jojo Rabbit (he was my pick, and he impressed the hell out of me with his sense of humor and intelligence, when I met him a party/screening of the film)

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

The Irishman (every ensemble nomination, has a cast that we all love; how can you even pick?)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Parasite (my pick, and…anyone’s pick that saw it)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (How this beat Knives Out and Marriage Story…is beyond me).

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Greta Gerwig – Little Women (this version disappointed my wife and I, and this is one of her favorite books).

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Roger Deakins – 1917 (the cinematography was my favorite thing about the movie)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (This is one award for Tarantino’s movie I agree with)

BEST EDITING

Lee Smith – 1917 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Ruth E. Carter – Dolemite Is My Name (I’m so glad she won. She deserved this so much more than anyone else in this category)

BEST COMEDY

Dolemite Is My Name (good movie, but there were three comedies funnier than this)

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP

Bombshell 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Avengers: Endgame 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Toy Story 4 

BEST ACTION MOVIE

Avengers: Endgame 

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE

Us 

BEST SONG 

Glasgow (No Place Like Home) – Wild Rose (fun fact: co-written by actress Mary Steenburgen)

(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again – Rocketman 

BEST SCORE

Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker 

It was a weird coincidence that the day after the Critics’ Choice awards, the Oscar nominations were announced. I won’t post the entire lists, because those that were curious enough about it, already looked it up. I’m just going to comment on various things that struck me about the nominations.

Everyone should shut up about Jennifer Lopez and Robert De Niro being “snubbed.” Everyone was saying weeks ago that De Niro wouldn’t get a nomination for this role. Joe Pesci was the only one that deserved it for that film. 

And…J-Lo is a dancer that became a pop star. She played a dancer that stripped. Is that really a stretch? And, let’s face it — Hustlers wasn’t a very good movie. Often times you don’t get nominated if your movie isn’t very good. For example, Willem Dafoe was amazing in The Lighthouse, but the movie was awful. No nomination. And guess who got nominated in the Supporting Actress category that surprised everyone — Kathy Bates for Richard Jewell. She was more deserving than Lopez, by a long shot. I would have also liked to have seen Octavia Spencer get a nod for Luce. Since Luce was such a small picture, I figured Naomi Watts wouldn’t have gotten nominated for Best Actress, but the travesty is that Sienna Miller didn’t get nominated for American Woman. I don’t want to hear ANYBODY talk about any kind of “snubs” if you’re not even mentioning her name in your rant.

The list of best picture nominations…half of them don’t deserve to be there. Joker wasn’t that good and tried too hard to be Scorsese. Scorsese tried too hard to make an epic, that didn’t need to be 3 ½ hours long. Little Women was a bit boring and Gerwig made some questionable decisions with the narrative and characters. 1917…started out strong but became a video game version of Saving Private Ryan.

Jojo Rabbit and Ford v Ferrari were good, not great. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was…okay.

Marriage Story and Parasite were both amazing and I’m glad they made it. Now, where the hell was Knives Out, Luce, and The Mustang? And speaking of The Mustang, all these people complaining about no women directors being nominated — shut up. You’re talking about three movies directed by women (It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Little Women, and The Farewell; none of those were directed so spectacularly). The movie that should have gotten a female director nomination — The Mustang, directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. 

Although I just think The Farewell was a good, not great film — Awkwafina and the actress who played her grandmother, Zhao Shuzhen, didn’t get nominations. Both deserved them. Especially when I read that Scarlett Johansson got a nomination for best actress in Marriage Story (in a movie I loved, but a role that ANY actress could have played), and supporting actress for Jojo Rabbit. She didn’t do much in that, and yet she’s the first person to get nominations in various categories in 13 years (Cate Blanchette was the last, in two forgettable films).

Best director — hand it over to South Korea’s Bong Joon Ho. He always gives us interesting stuff, and…Scorsese and Tarantino need to edit their films better. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see Antonio Banderas get a nomination for Pain and Glory (even if that’s an overrated film). Adam Driver was my favorite in this category. And, I’m curious as to how Jonathan Pryce got the nomination here, but the other of the two popes, Anthony Hopkins, got Supporting. Just as I’m perplexed as to how they decided Leo was the lead, and Brad Pitt was Supporting for Once Upon a Time

For Best Actress, I’m fine with Cynthia Erivo getting a nomination for Harriet (she was “snubbed” by the BAFTAs recently). The movie was disappointing but she was excellent. I just don’t understand how “Oscars so white” is being talked about again, with her nomination and director Bong Joon Ho. Am I missing something? I was in my car today listening to a critic on NPR reading the list, and when she rattled off the Supporting Actors, she made a point of noting how they are all white. Uh…is there some rule where they have to nominate someone of color? Does that mean with five nominations, one should be Black, one should be Asian, one should be Native American, what? What would make liberals that complain about this each year happy? And if memory serves, Mahershala Ali won the Oscar — TWICE — for this very category (including his wonderful performance last year in Green Book). So…is the Academy not racist in those years, but they are this year? Now, if you want to complain about the nominations, that’s fine. Hell, I’m doing that right now. But don’t make it about race, since it’s not. You can complain that Sterling K. Brown or Kelvin Harrison, Jr. didn’t get nominated for Waves. Not because they’re African-American, but because they deserved it. Or, complain about Octavia Spencer not getting nominated for Luce, when her performance is outstanding. And, why not name a specific person in that category you think shouldn’t be there, and should be replaced by…Jennifer Lopez, if she’s the one you think got snubbed. Instead, media outlets don’t have the temerity to do that. 

I hope Renee Zellwegger wins for Judy, but when she does, we’re just going to hear about how it’s old Hollywood, and these old white voters remember Judy Garland and blah blah blah. Now, Charlize Theron was incredible in Bombshell, that just wasn’t a very good movie.

The Supporting Actor category really bothered me this year. Does Tom Hanks get nominated just because he’s Hanks? And Al Pacino just played Pacino (with his usual over-acting).

I was pleasantly surprised to see Florence Pugh nominated for Little Women. She was good in it, but better in Midsommar. Apparently the Academy just doesn’t care for horror (as I’ll rant about later regarding Lupita).

I’ll be thrilled if Kathy Bates wins, but I think Laura Dern is the one to beat. And she was good.

Of the Adapted Screenplays, I’ll be rooting for Taika Waititi. He used an Arthur Lee song in a Holocaust film, and continues to give us great work (find his movies Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows). 

The category I like most in this year’s Oscars is Best Original Screenplay, because I think Knives Out, Marriage Story, and Parasite are all worthy of the award. Has there ever been a 3-way tie? I hope there is one, this year.

Parasite is a shoe-in for best International Feature Film. And I think because it will win here, it won’t win Best Picture (it’s rare for a movie to get nominated in both; the boring Roma did that last year). It’s a shame Pain and Glory had to come out in a year with Parasite.

I love movie scores, and was thrilled that Randy Newman got the nod for Marriage Story. I liked the other Newman — Thomas — but his score for 1917 wasn’t one of his better ones. I would have liked to have seen Marco Beltrami get a nomination for Ford v Ferrari. That soundtrack rocked, and did what a good soundtrack should — added another element to the storytelling.

Now, I’ve heard people say Beyonce got snubbed because her song for Lion King didn’t make it. Uh…wouldn’t the bigger snub be the song Jessie Buckley sang for Wild Rose? And it was written by a woman everyone in Hollywood loves — Mary Steenburgen.

And back to snubs, even though I wasn’t that impressed with Little Women, I think Timothee Chamalet does a better job than 3 of the other Best Actor nominees. Why has nobody brought him up as a snub?

I’m shocked and rather bummed that Lupita Nyong’o didn’t get a nomination for Us. Sure, it’s an overrated movie, but watching her play two different characters…is mesmerizing. I told her at the Critics’ Choice awards how I try to mimic her voice in that to scare my wife. Yet just as Toni Collette didn’t get nominated in the horror movie Hereditary last year, Lupita didn’t this year. See folks, it’s not racism. It’s film genres. How hard is that to get?

I think Eddie Murphy got snubbed for Dolemite Is My Name. All I can think is that…the Academy remembered when he stormed out of the Oscars after not winning for Dreamgirls (when saying that on KOGO 600 this morning, I accidentally called it “Showgirls”). Maybe those in Hollywood felt they saw a similar story with The Disaster Artist a few years ago, and didn’t need another one so soon. Maybe they felt Netflix was getting too much love with other movies, and the Oscars should be about movies that are made for movie theatres, not TV. Or maybe the Academy doesn’t care for former SNL cast members, because Adam Sandler gave a terrific performance in Uncut Gems, and he didn’t get a nod.

Nicole Kidman didn’t get a nomination for Bombshell, and she shouldn’t have.

Taron Egerton didn’t get the nomination that most actors get when they do a music bio-pic. I was sure the costume designs would get a nomination, though. Perhaps they felt that just looking at album covers and concert photos…made the job too easy.

I was shocked that, when I’d tell people how much I disliked Rocketman, they usually agreed with me. It’s rare for that to happen with a big hit film.

I was glad Christian Bale didn’t get a nomination for Ford v Ferrari, which was expected. He tried…a little too hard to “act” during that. I do wish Tracy Letts would have gotten a supporting nod for playing Henry Ford II.

Many were surprised Willem Dafoe didn’t get a nomination for The Lighthouse. He was terrific in it, but the movie was garbage. Although, that didn’t stop the Academy for giving him a nod for At Eternity’s Gate, which was also awful.

I was campaigning for Mary Kay Place in Diane, but it was a small picture that I’m guessing many in the Academy didn’t even see. That’s a shame, because they would have adored it.

One of the biggest snubs to me, was Knives Out not being nominated for Best Picture or Director (Rian Johnson).

All in all, I have to say, this is the most disappointed I’ve been in nominations in some time.

 

 

 

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