Last night’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, held just hours after the Oscar nominations were announced, was a big night of celebration for a lot of movies like Boyhood, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Still Alice, Whiplash and others who managed to win a slew of trophies Thursday night — while still basking in the glory of their multiple Oscar nods. It made for a surreal day of kudos overload.
For others, passed over by Oscar earlier in the day, the ceremony might have seemed like a wake more than a party. But deserving CCMA nominees — though not Oscar nominated contenders — like David Oyelowo, Ava DuVernay, Angelina Jolie, Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and Jennifer Aniston, among others, were good and gracious sports who showed up with a smile on their face but still were clearly masking the disappointment of coming so close to Oscar immortality.
Coincidentally, I was seated at the Aniston table (full disclosure: I am a member of BFCA and they put critics at each table), and she (there with fiancée Justin Theroux as well as Cake director Daniel Barnz and other colleagues) was besieged by well-wishers. Barnz actually said he was stunned Aniston didn’t get the nomination, as were many. After doing a very big push up that awards-season mountain for a very small film that doesn’t even open until next week, was she sad to have missed the cut? You bet, but she also told me she was thrilled that this little movie that came out of nowhere at the Toronto Film Festival just four months ago to being in headlines about a so-called “Oscar snub” came as far as it has in that time.
And actually, that’s true. It’s difficult to make a dent against big, current movies with large campaign budgets, but Aniston’s SAG, Golden Globe and CCMA nominations proved it wasn’t impossible. And for her, the whole experience has had the effect of taking her career to a whole new level — reward in itself.
Oyelowo’s father flew in for the occasion which was also Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The actor said it certainly would have been “perfect” to celebrate it with a nomination — that many expected him to get — but as the day grew on he became more sanguine about the whole experience. “I was really disappointed in the morning, no question, but by lunchtime I was fired up and excited to move on to new things,” he told me after the CCMA ceremony (where he lost Best Actor to Birdman’s Michael Keaton). Among those new projects he says is something he is cooking up with his Selma director DuVernay that he says will really make waves. Can’t wait for that. “At least through this whole season people have finally learned how to say my name. ” he laughed.
The big Selma contingent sitting in the middle of the room included one of the film’s producers, Oprah Winfrey, who was a brand new Oscar nominee thanks to the Best Picture nomination for the movie. And Common was also there, not only winning a CCMA for Best Song for the stirring anthem, “Glory,” heard over the final credits, but also celebrating his own Oscar nomination — the only other mention aside from Best Picture that the film received from the Academy, which is experiencing a tirade of outbursts questioning the organization’s commitment to diversity in their nominations this year despite the fact Selma did make the exclusive Best Picture club.
CCMA Best Director nominee Jolie was so crowded by critics trying to take selfies with her I couldn’t get near her table, but she seemed in good spirits despite the fact that her once heavily favored directorial achievement for Unbroken received only three crafts Oscar nominations. Consolation is probably the bang-up box office success of the film, I would imagine.
Sitting nearby were the winners of the CCMA award for Best Animated Feature, Lord and Miller, whose Lego Movie was probably the most stunning snub of the entire Oscar morning. After the ceremony they told me they were definitely quite surprised by the omission. After all, so many people told them they were going to actually win the Oscar that the lack of even a nomination really stung. “But look, it’s OK. We’ll be back. We have at least 6 to 8 more movies in us I hope,” Lord jokingly told me about the prolific pair. Among those films is the sequel to Lego coming out in a couple of years.
With them was Warner Bros.’ Sue Kroll, who also was disappointed at the Academy’s failure to nominate Lego. But she was taking it in stride and keeping her eye on the future. After all, she was at this same ceremony on Oscar nomination day just two years ago when the newly Oscar-snubbed Argo director Ben Affleck won the CCMA Best Director prize that night, experiencing an emotional roller coaster ride to which these two talented guys could probably relate. That snub actually seemed to benefit Affleck and Argo, creating sympathy and a path to the Best Picture Oscar.
It was certainly an interesting idea that same year to move the Broadcast Critics’ bash to the same day of the Oscar nominations. Publicists who had to be up at 4 AM complained, but the shift for the ceremony gave it a whole new vibe, turning it into a hyper-celebration for those who made Oscar’s list, and a cathartic one for those who didn’t. Either way, it has become an oddly timed but weirdly fun must-stop on the long and winding road to the Academy Awards.