Just a couple of weeks ago, and notably, a few days before “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” screened for press, the Broadcast Film Critics Association revealed their nominees for the annual Critics’ Choice Awards. “Mad Max: Fury Road” led the way with 13 nominations, and their Best Picture slate in general was filled with heavy hitters like “The Martian,” “The Revenant,” “Sicario,” and more. However, their members then saw ‘The Force Awakens’ and according to BFCA President Joey Berlin, a groundswell grew to include the movie, after voting had finished and ballots counted, as an 11th Best Picture nominee. And while many wondered aloud if the “Star Wars” picture was added to the mix to help boost TV ratings, Berlin says that’s not the case.
“That’s not the reason this was done but it certainly is something we were aware that if we did this, that could have a positive effect on the telecast,” he told Screendaily. “But this is driven by the fact that so many members felt the movie deserves to be in our consideration.”
Berlin claims that the BFCA was “bombarded by calls and emails” by members who wanted to give ‘The Force Awakens’ its due, and a new vote was held Monday, with critics asked if ‘The Force Awakens’ would’ve landed in their top five films of the year. Berlin won’t say how many participated in the vote, but it was enough to get the movie added to the list of Best Picture nominees.
Now, this isn’t unprecedented for the Critics’ Choice Awards. In 2000, “Cast Away” was added to the list of contenders after the initial round of voting (it ended up losing to “Gladiator“). And in this case, Berlin says, “We thought this was the best compromise in the best interests of the movie, members and our audience.”
Listen, the Critics Choice Awards aren’t exactly prestigious (they give an award for Best Reality Show Host), but it’s still not a great look for the organization. And it perhaps says something about the state of criticism that mere moments after seeing ‘The Force Awakens,’ BFCA members were breathless to get the movie on the Best Picture ballot. I’ve seen the movie twice, and enjoyed the hell out of it, but would it make my top 10? Unlikely. Had you asked me two minutes after I left the theater? Maybe in my excitement I would have slid it on there, but likely wanted to change my mind later….