The Critics Choice Awards always fall near Oscar nominations zone. This year, Sunday’s live/virtual CW broadcast announced winners during the Academy voting window, which ends March 10 ahead of nominations on March 15, and the delayed Oscars show on April 25.
No star-studded awards dinner inside a freezing hangar at the Santa Monica Airport this time around; instead nominees like Gillian Anderson zoomed in from Prague at 1 AM to banter with host Taye Diggs, and accept her Supporting Actress prize for embodying Margaret Thatcher in “The Crown” (Netflix). (Read the full list of film and television winners here.)
Because the annual Critics Choice Awards are voted on by the largest (and most diverse) film critics organization in North America (400 television, radio, and online critics), the CCAs are often the most accurate critics’ prediction of Academy Award nominations, including the Golden Globes. (The documentary awards were announced on November 16, 2020, and genre nominees were folded into the Super Awards, held on January 10, 2021.)
The CCAs hybrid show was more slick and glitch-free than the Globes, delivering 142 global nominees from all over the world, who could accept their awards live. CCA wins often match up to the Oscars as well, except when the CCAs go for ties. Last year’s Best Director was shared by Sam Mendes for “1917” and Bong Joon Ho for “Parasite.”
This year’s Editing awards were shared by “Sound of Metal” (Amazon), its only win of the night, and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix), which also took the consolation prize of Best Ensemble. “Nomadland” (Searchlight) beat out Sorkin’s film for Best Picture, while also winning Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay and Director for Chloé Zhao, who dedicated the award to production sound mixer Michael Wolf Snyder, who died last week. “We honor you and we will see you down the road, my friend,” said Zhao, who looks unstoppable on the way to an historic Best Director Oscar, and more.
Zhao is the first Chinese woman to win a CCA award as either director or writer. The question is who gets left out of the director list on Oscar nominations morning: three women are in the running, including Globe winner Zhao, Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”), and Regina King (“One Night in Miami”). They won’t all make the Oscar list of five, as they compete with Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”) as well as established filmmakers David Fincher (“Mank”), Aaron Sorkin (“Chicago 7”), and Spike Lee (“Da 5 Bloods”).
The late Chadwick Boseman also received multiple nominations for his outstanding performances in both “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix) and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix), winning the latter, as expected. His widow Taylor Simone Leward gave a similar speech as the one she gave at the Globes, if somewhat less emotional: “For those who knew Chadwick, it is so hard to find a celebratory feeling in these moments, as proud as we are of him. His work deserves this, he deserves this. He would always thank God first and foremost, always honor his mother and father, acknowledge those who came before him. And he would say something about the importance of this story and Black voices telling a Black story, and give honor to August Wilson, one of the greatest playwrights of our time.”
Boseman is heading for an inevitable posthumous Oscar.
Netflix also won a total of three awards for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Best Actor, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Costume Design), two for “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Acting Ensemble and Editing), and one for “Mank” (Best Production Design). Oscar long-shot, the 24-year-old Zendaya, lost out on Best Actress for Netflix’s “Malcolm & Marie,” but accepted the annual “SeeHer” award from her co-star John David Washington. The final tally of Critics Choice wins for Netflix, which earned 72 nominations across their series and films, totaled 14 wins across both film and series. Netflix films won six, while Amazon Studios and Searchlight Pictures each won four.
Maria Bakalova scored the only CCA win of the night for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon), winning Best Supporting Actress. This gives the Bulgarian discovery a nice lift heading for the Oscars. Surprisingly, the political agitprop film lost Best Comedy to “Palm Springs” (Neon/Hulu). Both films are most likely to vie for screenplay Oscar nominations.
In the contested race for Best Actress won by “United States vs. Billie Holiday” star Andra Day at the Globes, Carey Mulligan pulled a win for scrappy feminist indie “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features), filmed in just 23 days. Mulligan thanked director Emerald Fennell, who also beat the favorite, Globe-winner Sorkin, for Best Original Screenplay. Mulligan and Fennell will have a home-ground advantage at the BAFTAs (nominations are announced March 9), as “Promising Young Woman” heads into serious Oscar contention.
“Minari” (A24), with 10 CCA nominations, settled for two wins, for Best Young Actor (the endearingly teary Alan Kim), and Best Foreign Language Film, which it also won at the Globes. These wins will build momentum in other categories for this American Korean-language film at the Oscars; it is not eligible for Best International Film.
On his way to sweeping the major awards, from the Globes and CCAs to SAG, BAFTA, and the Oscars, Daniel Kaluuya landed Best Supporting Actor for channeling Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton in Shaka King’s “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.), which lost Best Ensemble to “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
“One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) won its expected Best Song, “Speak Now,” for one of the stars of the film, co-songwriter/performer Leslie Odom Jr., who accepted from TV movie winner, “Hamilton” creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda. Odom thanked director Regina King as well as the music icon he plays in the movie, ’60s crooner Sam Cooke, “for leaving such potent words and melodies to be inspired by,” he said.
Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross had two chances to win in the Best Score category with their nominations for “Mank” (Netflix) and “Soul” (Disney+), but took the prize for the latter, along with Jon Batiste, which could repeat at the Oscars.
Among the films that went home empty-handed were “United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Paramount/Hulu), “News of the World” (Universal), and “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix).