What a week! Thursday morning started early at the Academy with the Oscar nominations and ended late with the Critics Choice Awards, held at a chilly hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. Some 250 broadcast and online pros vote for these awards, and they often match up with the Oscars. With a changed calendar this year, this first broadcast awards show of the Oscar season–days ahead of the Golden Globes–went live on the CW the afternoon of the Oscar nominations, so that was the hot topic of the night. (Full winner's list below.)
People debated the reasons why directors Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper were left out by the Academy directors' branch, as well as why "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Amour" did so surprisingly well. (Sexism, director still earning his stripes, and varying reactions to "Les Mis" were contributing factors, along with the glaring math of having nine best pictures and five best directors.)
Most insiders agree that three films are now in contention for best picture: Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," and David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook." All three won prizes at the Critics Choice Awards. It was fun to watch grinning "Beasts" director Benh Zeitlin, who was sitting near my "Life of Pi" table, going over to meet Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis. (And no, Ang Lee has not yet read Eric Roth's script for "Cleopatra. It isn't finished.)
The surprise of the night was "Argo" winning the 2013 Critics Choice Awards, for both director and best film –producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov joined onstage the Oscar-snubbed Ben Affleck, who quipped, "I want to thank the Academy…"
The Critics' Choice and Golden Globes offer Oscar contenders a chance to practice their acceptance speeches. After getting a standing ovation, Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis was witty and charming, calling Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner "fearless Sherpas," and said that making "Lincoln" was "one of the greatest unforeseen privileges of my life."
Oddly, Jennifer Lawrence was competing in three categories, for not only best actress but actress in a comedy and action film. She charmingly accepted awards in the latter two categories for "Silver Linings" and "Hunger Games," respectively. "I love critics," she said. "I am the happiest I've ever been in my life."
"Silver Linings Playbook" got another boost for its Oscar campaign by winning best acting ensemble and best actor in a comedy for Bradley Cooper, who thanked David O. Russell for "a real script. He got all of us to be real." The film also won Best Comedy; Russell clarified, "it's' a comedy and a drama," and thanked his son, who inspired him in making the film.
Jessica Chastain, winning her first award, she said, took home best actress for "Zero Dark Thirty." "It was a great honor to play a woman defined by herself and not her male counterpart," she said. Both Lawrence and Chastain are expected to win in the separate comedy and drama categories at the Globes.
Nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis had a very good day with a best actress Oscar nomination and a win as best young performer at the Critic's Choice Awards, where she read her acceptance speech off a pink smart phone, and later danced joyfully at the after party.
Supporting actress winner Anne Hathaway scolded the BFCA for spelling her name wrong on her award. Philip Seymour Hoffman may repeat his supporting actor Critics' Choice win on Oscar night–unless the Weinstein-fueled "Silver Linings" juggernaut shifts to Robert De Niro, returning to the major leagues after 20 years.
Original Screenplay went to "Django Unchained," best sci-fi movie went to Rian Johnson for "Looper," best action movie to "Skyfall" (Daniel Craig was a no-show for best male action star) and best animated feature to "Wreck-it-Ralph."
Rebel Wilson nailed her intro to Judd Apatow for the genius award. He declared, "I'm a genius," and listed others in the room who were passed over, including Day-Lewis.
Going on the CW presumably steered the BFCA to favor the more populist awards for action, comedy, etc. over what must have seemed more arcane tech nods. But they left off foreign film ("Amour"), documentary ("Searching for Sugar Man"), VFX ("Life of Pi") and best song (Adele for "Skyfall") as well as several key "Lincoln" winners: Kushner accepted best screenplay off-camera –and this from a critics' group!–and they simply announced octogenarian John Williams' win as best composer. He was there. Adding insult to injury, they took Kushner's award back because they had run out of statuettes.
The "Lincoln" group was not happy. "Why are we here?" asked Sally Field, who swears she will never go back again.
There are plenty of award shows that cater to the hoi polloi. The BFCA doesn't need to be one of them–and yet they were pleased because their numbers were good.
The Movie Awards 2013 winners:
Daniel Day-Lewis – "Lincoln"
Jessica Chastain – "Zero Dark Thirty"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Philip Seymour Hoffman – "The Master"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway – "Les Miserables"
BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Quvenzhane Wallis – "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
"Silver Linings Playbook"
Ben Affleck – "Argo"
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Quentin Tarantino – "Django Unchained"
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Tony Kushner – "Lincoln"
"Life of Pi" – Claudio Miranda
BEST ART DIRECTION
"Anna Karenina" – Sarah Greenwood/Production Designer, Katie Spencer/Set Decorator
"Zero Dark Thirty" – William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
"Anna Karenina" – Jacqueline Durran
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
"Life of Pi"
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST ACTION MOVIE
BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Daniel Craig – "Skyfall"
BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Jennifer Lawrence – "The Hunger Games"
"Silver Linings Playbook"
BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Bradley Cooper – "Silver Linings Playbook"
BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Jennifer Lawrence – "Silver Linings Playbook"
BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
"Searching for Sugar Man"
"Skyfall" – performed by Adele/written by Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth – "Skyfall"
BEST SCORE "
"Lincoln" – John Williams