A night at the Critics’ Choice Awards

Posted by · 10:43 pm · January 8th, 2009

Sean Penn at the 14th Annual Critics\' Choice AwardsIt’s an event that keeps on getting better and better, a little awards show that’s escalated into one of the hallmarks of the film awards season, whether the “we’re one of the best Oscar predictors” stuff is annoying or not (which it is).

The night had a number of surprises, but in a sense, one of those surprises became a foregone conclusion half-way through the show.  The whole room could tell — “Slumdog Millionaire” was going to walk away with the first clean BFCA sweep since “A Beautiful Mind” in 2001.  Nothing for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”  Nothing for “Frost/Nixon.”  Nothing but the usual for the slowly-becoming-silver-medal-bound “The Dark Knight.”

Two big wins for “Milk” were nice.  Sean Penn’s victory as Best Actor might have been inevitable, even though Mickey Rourke’s portrayal was probably the year’s most critically acclaimed of the year.  I couldn’t help keeping an eye trained on Mickey two tables over, one of the wandering cameras crammed in his face as Penn delivered his acceptance.  Clearly the “Wrestler” gang was a bit disheartened, nabbing only one win — for Bruce Springsteen’s title track.  But Fox Searchlight was beaming nonetheless with it’s five “Slumdog” trophies.

I did as much mingling as the two minute commercial intervals would allow, but I did manage to finally meet the lovely Kate Beckinsale, nominated tonight for her criminally underseen performance in “Nothing But the Truth.”  She’s a real sweetheart, happy for the few pockets of support she’s been able to find for the film, which was essentially avalanched by the Yari bankruptcy last month.  There’s still Santa Barbara in a couple of weeks.

I have to say, being in the middle of Heath Ledger’s standing ovation was somewhat emotional.  The win wasn’t surprising in hindsight, but as Laura Dern was opening the envelope, I couldn’t help but think the idea of major awards was suddenly a pipe dream for this performance.  But it all went away quickly and Christopher Nolan gave a touching, spot-on acceptance speech on behalf of the actor.

(More, plus the full list of winners, after the jump.)

Speaking of speeches, high marks go to Ari Folman, taking the Best Foreign Language Film prize for “Waltz with Bashir.”  He closed with a dedication to the “production babies” who were born during the making of the film.  “This is for you, babies,” he said.  “I hope one day when you grow up and you see the film and you see the war that takes place in the film, it will look to you like an ancient video game that has nothing to do with your life whatsoever.”

Then again, I was also taken by Maureen Ryan’s equation of the filmmaking process to Philippe Petit’s quip about his upcoming high-wire act featured in “Man on Wire”: “Impossible.  Impossible.  Impossible.  Now, let’s go to work.”  A decent night for speeches all around.

Well, there was Anne Hathaway nearly steering off the rails with her acceptance for half of the lead actress prize, but it was forgiven once Viola Davis stepped in to seal the moment with some nice sentiments on behalf of co-winner Meryl Streep.  Other recent ties have included Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson locking horns for Best Actor in 2002 and Amy Adams and Michelle Williams sharing the supporting actress trophy in 2005.

The biggest surprise of the evening had to be Kate Winslet’s victory in the Best Supporting Actress category, a field that seemed to be a toss-up between Marisa Tomei and Penélope Cruz (especially given applause levels in the room).  But then again, word on the street is Winslet nabbed enough nomination votes to make the top five in both the lead and supporting categories for her “Reader” performance, and the group simply went with the category that has been campaigned by the studio for its tie-breaker.  So there was plenty of support for the portrayal.

But on the whole, it was all “Slumdog” all the time.  And the mood at the Viceroy after-party seemed to indicate that further.  It seems almost a foregone conclusion, finally snaking its way through the industry.  The Oscar is destined this year.  And even though Phase II is always a different ballgame, and strange things happen, “Button”‘s goose egg tonight and an all around “meh” feeling toward the film seems to be chipping away at its potential to steal the crown.  Indeed, it might just be “The Dark Knight” vs. “Slumdog” in the end, and the latter wins that battle in a cake walk when it comes to AMPAS.

(By the way, it looks like Xavi Rodriguez gets bragging rights in the predictions thread, correctly guessing a whopping 15 of the 17 victors, including the Winslet win.  Bravo, Xavi.)

Full list of BFCA winners:

Best Picture
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Director
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Actor
Sean Penn, “Milk”

Best Actress
(tie) Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married” and Meryl Streep, “Doubt”

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”

Best Supporting Actress
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Best Writer
Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Acting Ensemble

Best Composer
A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Song
“The Wrestler” from “The Wrestler”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Waltz with Bashir”

Best Documentary Feature
“Man on Wire”

Best Animated Feature

Best Young Actor/Actress
Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Action Movie
“The Dark Knight”

Best Comedy Movie
“Tropic Thunder”

Best Picture Made for Television
“John Adams”

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33 responses so far

  • 1 1-08-2009 at 10:47 pm

    Jake said...

    Nolan’s speech for Ledger was incredible. The award was very deserving.

  • 2 1-08-2009 at 10:50 pm

    Chad said...

    When was the last time your number one also took home Best Picture Kris?

  • 3 1-08-2009 at 10:58 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Good question. “Chicago” tied with “Punch Drunk Love” for my #1 in 2002 (I gotta be me), but the latter has taken over that spot as the years have gone by.

    I think “Unforgiven” was my #1 of 1992, but don’t quote me on that. After that, you’d have to go back to “Amadeus.”

  • 4 1-08-2009 at 10:59 pm

    JAB said...

    the predictability of the Best Picture and Best Director categories is more than made up for by the openness of the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress races, and Best Actor to some extent, i just have a feeling Penn won’t get that second Oscar this year, and Rourke’s redemption is too much to pass up.

  • 5 1-08-2009 at 11:05 pm

    Chad said...

    It would be Braveheart for me, and I wasn’t even a snob until 2002. Sadly, it looks like my streak won’t break unless Paranoid Park picks up a lot of steam.

  • 6 1-08-2009 at 11:07 pm

    Ryan said...

    It was a great night full of winners I enjoyed. I’m SO happy for Slumdog Millionaire, Kate Winslet, Heath Ledger, and Sean Penn.

    Also Viola Davis is fantastic. She practically stole Hathaway’s thunder.

  • 7 1-08-2009 at 11:08 pm

    Ian said...

    There was a tie for the 2005 year when Amy Adams (Junebug) and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) tied for Supporting Actress.

  • 8 1-08-2009 at 11:09 pm

    Patrick F said...

    Tonight confirmed 2 of my biggest suspicions and disproved the other:

    1. Anne Hathaway – very dangerous for the win. Note to Anne: When you’re in a grudge match with Meryl Streep it’s probably not wise to use your spotlight talking about Meryl Streep.

    2. Benjamin Button – on much shakier ground that most of us thought.

    and proven wrong on:
    Clint Eastwood as a frontrunner. I guess the commercials just have me programmed. (I still compulsively stop whatever I’m doing to say “Get Off My Lawn” every time I fast forward through the GT Ads.

  • 9 1-08-2009 at 11:43 pm

    THE Diego Ortiz said...

    So the action award was created so they can give an award to TDK?

  • 10 1-08-2009 at 11:44 pm

    Paul8148 said...

    With the DGA I doubt Button can pull a Dreamgirls?

    I doubt it since I do not know for what.

  • 11 1-09-2009 at 12:08 am

    Ross said...

    BUTTON won’t ptove a DREAMGIRLS for several reasons:

    (1) It has really wide support – the HFPA nominations’ leader, won the NBR for best director & best screenplay, is nominated by the PGA, DGA, WGA, SAG (in three categories, including ensemble), ASC and come on, it shows enough support in Hollywood. It’s also a really ambitious film and Hollywood loves ambition more than anything else. And I still think it may win the top Golden Globe on Sunday.

    (2) It’s a typical best picture film. It has some fantastic elements, but it’s no fantasy film, come on. It has an ensemble, which includes Oscar darlings Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton, a A+ list star (Brad Pitt). It has some A listers working on it. And DREAMGIRLS had Beyonce and Eddie Murphy. Come on! Nobody would vote for them!

    (3) It’s especially benefits from the preferential ballot. There are lots of detractors, but there are also LOTS AND LOTS of voters, who genuinly love this film…passionately. (DREAMGIRLS was nobody’s real favorite – the film he/she was rooting for all the time.) And technical branches help here a lot. Come on, DREAMGIRLS was never a contender for cinematography, original score, make-up, visual effects, while THE CURIOUS CASE has all the technical categories like in the bag.

    (4) The most important one: THE CURIOUS CASE may not be a great film, but it has some glimpses, while DREAMGIRLS was awfully mediocre.

  • 12 1-09-2009 at 12:09 am

    Aaron said...

    I don’t really understand why everyone is so shocked that Benjamin Button did not receive anything. The only thing I predicted it to win, and I truthfully wasn’t even positive it would win it, was Best Composer. Brad Pitt didn’t stand a chance in hell, and it didn’t have a shot in Acting Ensemble either, especially with heavy ensemble pieces like Milk and Doubt (which I thought would win).

    I don’t think Button is in much danger (knock on wood). I have a feeling it will win the Best Picture Drama at the Globes Sunday. They always go with the early, EARLY frontrunner (hence Babel, Atonement, The Aviator).

    If it fails to win anything at the Globes, THEN I think it’s safe to start worrying…

  • 13 1-09-2009 at 12:30 am

    Anthony said...

    I couldn’t help but be reminded of Anne Hathaway’s grimace-inducing wedding toast in RGM during her acceptance speech. The parallels were alarming.

    Maybe her performance wasn’t that good after all.

    While some of my personal favorites didn’t pull home the bacon today, I was pleased with the winners. Though I am rooting for a Button upset at the Golden Globes and a Dark Knight upset at both the PGA and DGA, just so we have something exciting to talk about for the next several weeks.

    Glad you had a great time, Kris.

  • 14 1-09-2009 at 2:41 am

    katie H said...

    Quick question: Shouldn’t it be Film, not Films? works either way i suppose.

    “…an all around “meh” feeling toward the films..”

  • 15 1-09-2009 at 2:54 am

    Michael said...

    Good award show.

    But seriously, Ms. Hathaway, please make your speeches shorter.

  • 16 1-09-2009 at 3:12 am

    Eunice said...

    Yes! Fistpump.

    Streep wins, awesome! Although her sharing the award with Anne Hathaway is somewhat a surprise. I was never really impressed with her performance in RGM. I half-expected the award to go to Sally Hawkins–who I know was critically lauded for Happy-Go-Lucky, and who’s leading the awards race right now. If Streep wins the Globe for Drama, I think it’s going to be a fight vs. Hawkins for the former’s third Oscar and the latter’s first. Interesting.

    I’m definitely going to root for a Slumdog vs. TDK BP smackdown, even though I’m not sure who I want to win.

  • 17 1-09-2009 at 3:54 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Except Sally Hawkins wasn’t even nominated by the BFCA, Eunice. Best Actress is a weird race this year.

    I’m sticking by my prediction that Hathaway will take the Oscar — not a prediction that gives me much pleasure, I must admit. It’s a fine performance, and indication of (presumably) better things to come from a long-promising young actor. It deserves a nomination and a pat on the back, sure, but why is she winning things?

    And if Kate Winslet wins an Oscar for “The Reader,” I’ll be severely disappointed. Far from her best work.

  • 18 1-09-2009 at 4:34 am

    MARK said...

    streep wins lead winslet supp simple.

  • 19 1-09-2009 at 6:09 am

    Eunice said...

    What? Really? I wasn’t able to see the noms, so I just assumed she’d be in because I don’t think she’s been shut out of anything yet. That’s another surprise. Thanks for the info, Guy!

    I can only safely say that Hathaway’s winning awards because she did something different. Not a comedy, not a Disney movie. Maybe for a meatier role, and the right time.

    And if Kate Winslet wins for ‘The Reader’… well. It’ll just be another one of those ‘for your career, and not for a particular work’. Which is what a fourth of me feels about Meryl Streep winning for ‘Doubt’. I’ll be happy if she wins, but if the movie doesn’t live up to my expectation, then it’s just a recognition of her just recently unlocked box office and staying power.

  • 20 1-09-2009 at 7:21 am

    mike said...

    Everyone see that the Globes site mentioned Anne as the winner already on Sunday then fixed “the mistake”?


  • 21 1-09-2009 at 7:31 am

    SLD said...

    I’m sure mine is the minority opinion here. Would Heath Ledger be receiving all the accolades had he survived? His was a very good performance. He was a very good actor. Great in Brokeback! I can’t help but think this love fest is a sympathy vote.

  • 22 1-09-2009 at 7:51 am

    Chris said...

    I’m sure he wouldn’t be winning everything, if he was still alife. But as his performance truly was among the year’s best, it’s a sympathy vote I don’t really mind. He does deserve these awards, although of course there were other worthy performances.

  • 23 1-09-2009 at 8:12 am

    Kate said...

    I’m actually quite relieved that TCCofBB didn’t get anything. I found the film relatively intolerable, except for Taraji Henson. At least it’s the one spot the awards circuit is getting right. It seems like this is a completely off year in terms of honoring the correct films.

    It takes alot for me to get emotional, but I’ll admit when Heath won I did tear up. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have experienced that Kris, so lovely.

    I wish the tie had been between Mickey and Sean, as I found their performances equally fantastic.

    I don’t normally care for Anne Hathaway but her speech was quite charming, despite the fact that she sounded like an 8 year old girl, it was very sweet. And did anyone else find it aggrivating/slightly amusing that the camera kept turning on Angelina Jolie during Anne’s speech? It seemed intrusive…

  • 24 1-09-2009 at 8:14 am

    Kate said...

    Eunice, I totally agree. It’s almost like if Kate win’s for the Reader it’s a “Sorry we took so long, but here you go” Oscar. I hate when they do that! She should have won for Eternal Sunshine!

  • 25 1-09-2009 at 9:02 am

    Silencio said...

    I actually loved Kate Winslet in The Reader. Maybe more than Revolutionary Road, and she was great in that too.

    Not sold on Hathaway winning. I liked her but was more impressed with Rosemarie DeWitt. Where the heck is she, with all these awards?

    I’ll finally be seeing The Wrestler this afternoon though, which will be the last thing I have to see until Milk hits the cheap theatres.

  • 26 1-09-2009 at 9:30 am

    Ryan said...

    Yeah despite the problems some people had with The Reader, I thought Kate Winslet was the best part. Much better than her role in Revolutionary Road even if that, too, was very good. Though yes, she should’ve won for Eternal Sunshine, but these two roles this year aren’t exactly chopped liver.

    As for the “would Heath still be getting all these awards if he was alive” questions, well he was already the frontrunner before he died, so most likely. And again, it’s not like the Joker role is NOT deserving of awards. I would complain more if he had gotten awards for bad acting in some bad movie. Instead he delivers a singular performance in a highly rated blockbuster of a movie that A LOT of people loved. Win, win, win.

  • 27 1-09-2009 at 9:41 am

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    Thanks, Kris ;)…

    My feelings:

    *I will not surprise if Anne Hathaway will win the GG, after all: Keri Russell, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers are Globe winners and HFPA loves the young actors in complex characters.

    *Rumor has it Mamma Mia! and Meryl Streep will win in Comedy Categories and Anna PAquin will win instead January Jones. I don’t know if this is true, but after all, that’s the HFPA

    *I think Kate Winslet will win (finally) for supporting actress. Her role in The Reader is marvelous and a lot better (In my opinion) that RR (A little bit overrated). And her Oscar will be “Sorry for all the nominations”, but she will go the Cate Blanchett route.

    *Maybe Hathaway is the IT girl but Meryl Streep will win the SAG and Oscar. The american queen of cinema + Box office hits + Long career + Staying power.

    *The only two locks: Danny Boyle for Directing and Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor (The GG is easy with that competition).

    The ceremony was nice. I love Nolan’s speech and the stading ovation. I really hope Heath Ledger would be there. Hathaway’s speech and Angelina’s eyes. Maybe she’s thinking: “WTF!!?? I hate you, Disney Princess, that award is MINE!!”

    *I agree with many comments: Sally Hawkins must play Amy Winehouse in a film.*

  • 28 1-09-2009 at 2:37 pm

    Elva said...

    Sally Hawkins should have been nominated for the BFCA, not detract from Cate Blanchet and Kate Beckinsale, was one such place, but if there is justice to be nominated for an Oscar and BAFTA winning .!!!!

  • 29 1-09-2009 at 5:46 pm

    Glenn said...

    “1. Anne Hathaway – very dangerous for the win. Note to Anne: When you’re in a grudge match with Meryl Streep it’s probably not wise to use your spotlight talking about Meryl Streep.”

    Or, give them what they want. A young pretty celebrity who actually has praise for “the older generation”. Considering she nearly teared up at the freakin’ BFCAs I shudder to think what Hathaway would be like if she won the Oscar (love me some Hathaway, but the film hasn’t been released here yet unfortunately).

    I loathe the BFCAs.

  • 30 1-09-2009 at 8:04 pm

    Sally said...

    I can imagine how the Wrestler table must have felt…to have all of Fox Searchlight sitting at the Slumdog table and the fact Fox has treated The Wrestler like a redheaded step-child. They poured everything into Slumdog and left The Wrestler and Rourke with a second class campaign, imo.

  • 31 1-10-2009 at 10:36 am

    Mike V. said...

    I’m glad Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet both won. That would be a perfect Oscar night: two long time awaited awards for the most incredible actresses of their generations. Simple!

    The Oscar Acting Categories winners should be:

    Streep: Leading Actress
    Winslet: Supporting Actress
    Penn: Leading Actor
    Ledger: Supporting Actor

  • 32 1-10-2009 at 11:23 am

    head_wizard said...

    I was generally please, with the night Heath and Penn winning were very nice and I liked Anne’s speech it felt real and she just didn’t expect to win. I wish Sally Hawkins had been nominated and won but Anne is not a bad choice, actress just isn’t that strong this year.

    Slumdog was a fine winner as well, good night overalll