‘Hurt Locker’ takes top honors at Critics’ Choice Awards

Posted by · 1:37 am · January 16th, 2010

Best Actress winners Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock at the Critics' Choice AwardsThe BFCA are rarely ones to take an individual stand on the awards trail, and such was the case last night, as they mostly stuck with Oscar frontrunners down the line. In the numbers stakes,  “Avatar” (with six awards) and “Inglourious Basterds” (with three) came out on top.

But it was “The Hurt Locker” that emerged as the night’s real winner, maintaining its tight season-long grip on the Best Picture and Best Director prizes, even with this more mainstream-oriented group. (It should be stressed that, despite the name, this is not a critics’ award.)

Is this another “Sideways” — which also managed to parlay critical momentum into a top win here — or is something bigger afoot for the film? I’m starting to suspect the latter.

Kris can obviously offer more first-hand perspective at a later stage. Still, the sense I get from this is that, for all the claims of it being a level three-horse race, “Up in the Air” is actually trailing “The Hurt Locker” and “Avatar” — if any major precursor was going to swing the way of Jason Reitman’s film, I’d have expected it to be the sometimes safe-playing BFCA.

Meanwhile, George Clooney’s loss to Jeff Bridges — telling if by no means definitive — shows up the fact that “Up in the Air” has only a writing award safely in its pocket.

Elsewhere, it was business as usual, with Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique’s stranglehold on the supporting categories remaining unchallenged, and the BFCA voters refusing to move the needle in the Best Animated Feature race — despite the hopes of some critics. Meanwhile, for Best Foreign Language Film, they unsurprisingly opted for the familiar auteur brand of Pedro Almodóvar. (What, you thought Haneke had a chance here?)

It’s difficult to know what to make of “Avatar”‘s near-sweep in the technical races, given that this is the first year the BFCA has awarded such categories — is this a signal of the film’s strength or the voters’ susceptibility? Meanwhile, the inconsistency of James Cameron’s epic beating “The Hurt Locker” to Best Action Film carries as little meaning as the award itself.

The most unexpected development here is arguably that odd tie for Best Actress — for the second year running, the BFCA couldn’t make up its mind in this category, and for the second year running, Meryl Streep received half an award.

Many might have suspected Streep had this one sewn up, but Sandra Bullock’s charm offensive is clearly persuading many. My guess: Streep split the more critical-minded vote with Carey Mulligan, allowing Bullock to balance the scales. (If you wanted emphatic proof that “Critics’ Choice” is something of a misnomer, there you have it.)

The Critics’ Choice Awards may pride themselves on their Oscar bellwether-status, but all they’ve told us here (and in some other top races) is that it’s anyone’s for the taking.

Best Picture: “The Hurt Locker”
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side” and Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Broken Embraces”
Best Documentary: “The Cove”
Best Animated Festure: “Up”
Best Cinematography: Mauro Fiore, “Avatar”
Best Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg, “Avatar”
Best Costume Design: Sandy Powell, “The Young Victoria”
Best Film Editing: John Refoua and Stephen E. Rivkin, “Avatar”
Best Makeup: “District 9”
Best Original Score: Michael Giacchino, “Up”
Best Original Song: T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham, “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”
Best Sound: “Avatar”
Best Visual Effects: “Avatar”
Best Ensemble: “Inglourious Basterds”
Best Comedy Film: “The Hangover”
Best Action Film: “Avatar”
Best Young Actor: Saoirse Ronan, “The Lovely Bones”

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80 responses so far

  • 1 1-16-2010 at 8:05 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Haha, it took me a while to find a good one.

  • 2 1-16-2010 at 8:13 am

    cineJAB said...

    i didnt watch the show, what’s the deal with that kiss???

  • 3 1-16-2010 at 8:15 am

    Me. said...

    Bullock and Streep made out? LMAO I gotta admit that’s pretty awesome.

    I’d like a Golden Globe predictions post. I’m going to predict Inglourious Basterds for the wind because the Globes usually give their award to the most international film (Slumdog Millionaire, Atonement, Babel) of the bunch and Basterds has cast members from different countries and many languages. The Hollocaust subject doesn’t hurt it either.

  • 4 1-16-2010 at 8:27 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    cineJAB: Just good-natured goofing on their part. The Other James D explains how it all played out in comment #25.

  • 5 1-16-2010 at 8:31 am

    John said...

    Honestly, I have to admit that I was initially cheering for Streep or Mulligan, but all of this horrible haters of Bullock have made me want Sandy to pull this thing off. I’m guessing the more press & blogs goes against this quality, nice person with personal attacks (and that’s what they are-they’re not attacks on her performance anymore), the more people who will feel that way.

    I think she’s going to win at this point, though Streep could still take it.

  • 6 1-16-2010 at 8:33 am

    Jim Τ said...

    I guess that photo is more evidence that this is the year of women. They even prefer to make out with each other. :p

  • 7 1-16-2010 at 8:35 am

    Craig said...

    They should both lose to Laurent, but they won’t.

  • 8 1-16-2010 at 8:37 am

    Jim T said...

    With Tilda out, I don’t think I’m rooting for anyone this year. I love Meryl but I don’t want her to win for this. I probably want Mulligan to win but I’m sure there are juicier roles for her in the future. I think Bullock is trying to make me like her. Well, maybe she will succeed at some point.

    I don’t know if Hunt deserved the win but it was a very good performance indeed.

  • 9 1-16-2010 at 9:13 am

    med said...

    Bullock’s performance in the BS was the weakest of the predicted nominees. AMPAS is well aware of this and they will reward Streep’s solid turn as Child. Bullock nomination will be her reward. A win — NOT.

  • 10 1-16-2010 at 9:30 am

    Chris138 said...

    As long as The Hurt Locker takes Best Picture and Best Director at the Globes, I don’t care who else wins in the other categories. Christoph Waltz is obviously a given for the supporting actor category, and deservedly so.

    And as for this whole Sandra Bullock thing everybody keeps talking about, I don’t really know what to say. I haven’t seen The Blind Side, the preview turned me off to it (I don’t get suckered into those movies that try to look inspirational in their trailers, ESPECIALLY sports movies). So in all fairness, I can’t judge her performance until I see the movie… if that day ever comes.

  • 11 1-16-2010 at 9:51 am

    Bia said...

    I thought Christoph Waltz gave a bizarre speech.

  • 12 1-16-2010 at 10:16 am

    Al said...

    Many people want Streep to win just because of how talented she is, and she is very talented. But her performance wouldn’t be in play if it were anybody else. This whole Oscar talk is all about apologies for only 2 wins, not really a deserved win. Same with Bullock, although not as good an actress, people want to see her with an award. This whole leading actress season has been read into wrong. Carey Mulligan or Melanie Laurent are the only ones who even deserve a nomination as far as Im concerned.

  • 13 1-16-2010 at 10:20 am

    Adam said...

    Its so obvious that this critics groups are nothing more than lock stop followers who are trying to PREDICT the Oscars rather than honor the best.

    Not only has Bullock not won a single critics award she hasnt even PLACED in them. Yet ties for the Critics Choice?

  • 14 1-16-2010 at 10:38 am

    mhf89 said...

    I think Carey Mulligan is going to pull an Amy Ryan–win several precursor awards but fail to get any of the biggies–GG, SAG, BFCA, BAFTA, etc. I hope not I’d like to thinks there is some justice in the world–that’s when I remember we don’t live in a logical, just world.

  • 15 1-16-2010 at 11:06 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Hunt? Benigni? I feel like I’ve entered the Twilight Zone… ;-)

  • 16 1-16-2010 at 12:27 pm

    leocdc said...

    I’m so tier of The Hurt Locker

  • 17 1-16-2010 at 1:12 pm

    Ivan D. said...

    I think these awards are the best precursors for Oscar winners, much better than the GG. As for the best actress, I think there isn’t the slightest chance Meryl Streep won’t win. Just think how interesting this award season would be if BRIGHT STAR was released in December? Everybody would be talking if Meryl can beat Abbie Cornish!

  • 18 1-16-2010 at 1:38 pm

    Ren said...

    @ Guy’s #28 comment:

    “As for the much-repeated notion that Hollywood takes Streep for granted, or forgets how good she is, can I remind you that’s she’s about to receive her 16th nomination? A little perspective, please.”

    I think this is the very proof that Hollywood does, in fact, take Streep for granted. Meryl has always been very gracious and enthusiastic about just being nominated but does one really believe it doesn’t hurt or sting or deflat the self esteem of Meryl each time out? Yes, they acknowledge her but time after time they expect the nomination to be enough, even for the times she should have won, because why? Because they all say she’s the best so that should be sufficient … right?

    I’d also say that Meryl is 60 and to my knowledge (limited) she does not have another project ready to go. It’s been a busy decade for Meryl but I think we’re done seeing her in too many more films. And that fact alone is a sad thought.

  • 19 1-16-2010 at 2:55 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    “The only win will then be for Helen Hunt, who will no longer have to be the worst Best Actress winner in recent history.”

    You’re wrong. It’s painfully obvious you don’t know the rule about awarding Jack Nicholson and his female co-star. Everyone of his Oscar wins – his female co-star also wins.

    Had Jack not campaigned for Adrian – Kathy Bates would’ve won her 2nd Oscar!

    “As for the much-repeated notion that Hollywood takes Streep for granted, or forgets how good she is, can I remind you that’s she’s about to receive her 16th nomination? A little perspective, please.”

    I’ll give you a little perspective – Katharine (I hate you Meryl Streep) Hepburn has 4 Competitive Best Actress Oscar Wins – with just 12 Nominations – all for lead.

    Jack Nicholson has 3 – give Streep her 3rd so this whole issue can be given a rest!

  • 20 1-16-2010 at 3:16 pm

    Sally in Chicago said...

    Sandra is a better actress than people give her credit.

  • 21 1-16-2010 at 3:51 pm

    Anna said...

    I’m sorry but I saw An Education and truthfully I found nothing special about Carey Mulligan’s performance, nor the film for that matter which I think borders on being kinda icky.

    I think Sandra Bullock gives a great performance and two very different performances in two movies which shows what a versatile actress she is. I love Meryl Streep, but how many times are they gonna get the chance to reward Sandra Bullock? She deserves it and should win and audiences in droves agree.

  • 22 1-16-2010 at 4:34 pm

    juli said...

    Anna I just dont agree with you, Sandra Bullock performance is one note the entire film, even her reviews werent that great. BUt the film broke box office records and THATS why she is winning awards.

  • 23 1-16-2010 at 4:36 pm

    annie said...

    I think Sandra Bullock gives a great performance and two very different performances in two movies which shows what a versatile actress she is. I love Meryl Streep, but how many times are they gonna get the chance to reward Sandra Bullock? She deserves it and should win and audiences in droves agree

    you have to be kidding me.

  • 24 1-16-2010 at 4:43 pm

    John said...

    I think the Streep feeling bad thing is a little stretch-she had SIXTEEN nominations, more than any actor in history, and she’ll likely get 3-4 more in her career, creating a record that, considering the life cycle of actors’ popularity these days, will never be ignored. The history books are not going to forget this woman if she only wins two Oscars.

  • 25 1-16-2010 at 5:20 pm

    Big Braveheart said...

    Where’s Tom Hardy for his performance in Bronson? Academy get real!!

  • 26 1-16-2010 at 8:43 pm

    NoSabu said...

    “Anna says: I think Sandra Bullock gives a great performance and two very different performances in two movies which shows what a versatile actress she is. I love Meryl Streep, but how many times are they gonna get the chance to reward Sandra Bullock? She deserves it and should win and audiences in droves agree.”


    Nice one, Bradley Cooper. This is the funniest thing you have ever done. The Proposal and All About Steve are definitely two Sandra Bullock rom-com classics. Not only are they two of the best movies of 2009, but perhaps the decade, too! And only a Sandra Bullock could have been quite as, uh, moving in the leads.

    Hey, Wild Hogs was an enormous success. Audiences loved it! We should retroactively give Tim Allen an Oscar for that one. I mean, how often are we going to be able to give awards to Tim Allen. Think about that…

  • 27 1-16-2010 at 9:56 pm

    Travis said...

    I actually think this is a 3-way race between “Avatar”, “The Hurt Locker”, and “Inglourious Basterds” rather than “Up in the Air”. If AMPAS is suddenly going to go “populist”, wouldn’t it make more sense for them to award Best Picture to a WWII film by a respected auteur over sci-fi escapism (which they’ve never done)?

    Having ridiculous box office receipts does not make “Avatar” a surefire lock, as “The Dark Knight” can surely attest.

    Also, this better be the only time “The Hangover” beats “(500) Days of Summer” for anything.. Just sayin’

  • 28 1-17-2010 at 2:18 am

    Jane said...

    Man, what a bad year for award shows to suddenly go all populist. Too late people, it’s not 2008 anymore.

  • 29 1-17-2010 at 4:44 am

    Another Al said...

    If Cuba Gooding can win an Oscar in a football movie, Bullock can too.

    Not saying she does or doesn’t deserve it but she’s certainly in with a shot.

  • 30 1-17-2010 at 7:39 am

    Me. said...

    The Proposal looks razzie worthy.