Last night’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards pretty much mirrored the results of the Golden Globes handed out just a few days earlier. The winners — 12 Years A Slave for Picture, American Hustle for Comedy Picture, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Leonardo DiCaprio, director Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Jonze for his Her screenplay, and animated film Frozen — were awarded similar honors from the Hollywood Foreign Press on Sunday. The only real variation was in Supporting Actress, where Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o was the choice of the Broadcast Critics (I am a member of the group) while Jennifer Lawrence grabbed the Globe. Lawrence did win a CCMA too, though, as part of the victorious ensemble of Hustle.
Related: Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Winners
So does this mean an Oscars consensus is finally forming as awards season begins to heat up? Not really. We are still talking awards from media groups here. The real contest starts this weekend when the first two big guild awards — SAG on Saturday and the Producers Guild on Sunday — declare their winners and the industry gets its say. These results will be significant and I am particularly looking towards the PGA (which has turned out to be a kingmaker in recent seasons, matching Oscar’s Best Picture the last six years in a row) to add some clarity to the season which at this point is wide open — although I would say, by virtue of a major Best Picture win at the Globes and CCMAs, 12 Years A Slave is having a good run this week. And remember, for whatever reason, the Broadcast Critics Association members often seem to reflect the sentiment of Academy voters. It has a good track record predicting eventual Oscar wins.
But where the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards really made its mark last night was that it came at the end of a long day where Oscar nominations were revealed. This is the second year in a row BFCA chose the same date as the Academy for a major awards season event. You might recall Ben Affleck’s “I’d like to thank the Academy…” speech last year when he won the CCMA after being snubbed by the Academy for a Best Director nomination earlier that morning. There weren’t quite the same dramatic moments last night, but the vibe in the room was electric. A whole group of brand new Oscar nominees were in a celebratory mood, and the networking and backslapping going on was every bit as fun as the crazy atmosphere that surrounds the Globes.
What did make it unique was not just that the Oscar nominees showed, but also many of those who were bypassed by the Academy but were Critics’ Choice nominees. Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Oprah Winfrey were all good sports to run this press gauntlet despite missing out on expected Oscar nominations just hours earlier. Hanks good naturedly even put up with host Aisha Tyler’s tacky line, “Tom Hanks, I would never snub you!” I loved Julia Roberts’ line as she presented Best Picture. “This whole night has been like some strange Fellini movie I forgot was in my Netflix queue”. Seemed like it with all the conflicting emotions between elation and disappointment this class of 2013 must have been feeling yesterday. Captain Phillips co-producer Dana Brunetti got a nomination for Best Picture but said the day was definitely bittersweet considering the Oscar omission of Hanks and director Paul Greengrass. Phillips’ Adapted Screenplay nominee Billy Ray was more blunt. “It’s unacceptable that my guys did not get in. That’s the way I feel,” he said. Supporting Actor nominee for his first film, Barkhad Abdi, was also disappointed the “captains” of his ship didn’t get in but he was clearly overwhelmed with the honor himself.
Related: OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?
I was sitting at Table 108 front and center with one of the “elated” groups — the Dallas Buyers Club nominees including McConaughey and Leto, producers Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, and co-writer Craig Borten (thanks BFCA for the great table — I will be sure to pay my dues). The film got six Oscar nominations including a surprise nod for Film Editing, a very important category to be in if you want to win Best Picture by the way. Brenner pointed out that even though director Jean-Marc Vallee did not get into the Academy’s Directing category, he is going to the Oscars as a nominee anyway. It turns out, ala the Coen brothers and Steven Soderbergh, that he used a pseudonym of John Mac Murphy and landed the Editing nomination with very few even knowing it was him. Congrats, Jean-Marc (who wasn’t at the CCMAs as he is busy on his next film, Wild). McConaughey was constantly surrounded by well-wishers including Hanks, who came over to congratulate him during one of the commercial breaks. He told me he was thrilled to get his first Oscar nomination but equally excited about all the other Dallas nominees including the makeup and hairstyling team. He said they had about $250 in the budget for hair and makeup but it obviously paid off for them. When the young actor/actress category came up, Matthew was rooting strongly for his Mud co-star Tye Sheridan to win, saying he was exceptional (Blue Is The Warmest Color’s Adele Exarchopoulos took the prize). Leto said he didn’t know the nominations were happening yesterday and was sleeping at 5:30 AM when they were announced, but really got a nice wake-up call to be sure.
DiCaprio, sitting with two other Wolf Of Wall Street Oscar nominees Martin Scorsese and Jonah Hill, told me he was astounded with the nomination especially as his name came further down in the list. Hill , like Leto, had to be awakened and said the first thing he asked in his groggy state was ‘ Is Leo nominated too?’ Big day. At a nearby table I congratulated Meryl Streep on getting her unprecendented 18th nomination and asked if it felt as good as the first one. “I’m always amazed they are ever going to nominate me,” she said with genuine modesty for someone who holds a record that likely will never be equaled by any other actor — ever. 20 Feet From Stardom director Morgan Neville was excited to win at the CCMAs but even more on a high about his Best Documentary Oscar nomination. Tata Vega, Merry Clayton and Judith Hill, three of the singers profiled in the film, joined their table last night and the party after (although Neville, who is a Sundance documentary judge, headed out early to get up at 3 AM to head to Park City. Radius-TWC Presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego flew in from New York and were also thrilled, landing two of the five Oscar docu nominations (Cutie And The Boxer also made the cut). TWC’s Harvey Weinstein and David Glasser were celebrating that milestone for Radius last night too. Harvey was understandably excited that his Philomena landed a Best Picture nomination and compared it to the year he had The King’s Speech. a crowd-pleaser that the Academy took to heart when critics groups didn’t. Nominee Judi Dench wasn’t there but the real Philomena Lee made the CCMA scene. Look to see her a lot in the next six weeks.
Megan Ellison, supporting two new Oscar Best Picture nominees Her and American Hustle, told me she was amazed to become the first woman to be nominated for two different Best Picture contenders in the same year. Sitting with Spike Jonze and the Her contingent she said: “When I was a little girl if you told me I would ever be in the movie industry I never would have believed it. I am overwhelmed by this.” Hustle‘s multi-Oscar-nominated David O.Russell went over to find Jonze to congratulate him. Disney’s Alan Horn came over to Russell to congratulate him and reminisced about past meetings they had earlier in Russell’s career, which has been exploding lately with back-to-back-to-back Best Picture and Directing nominations. For Horn it was definitely a bittersweet day, and an ironic one, where Disney’s box office dud The Lone Ranger somehow managed to get one more nomination than their great Best Picture Oscar hope, Saving Mr. Banks (nominated only one time for its Thomas Newman score). He can take solace that Frozen , which has re-energized the Disney animation brand, won at the CCMAs and the Globes and looks at this point like the one to beat at the Oscars for animated feature.
Quite a night. And quite a day. BFCA President Joey Berlin told me if the ratings on the CW are good (they weren’t) they might just do the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards on the same day as the Oscar nominations every year. With this kind of “Fellini-esque” night, that sounds like a pretty good idea to me.