Saturday, March 2, 2024

Reactions To The 2023 Critics Choice Award Nominations

Oscar pundits eagerly await the nomination announcements for the four major televised awards that lead up to the Oscars every year. Earlier this week, we received the Golden Globe’s picks, the SAG and BAFTA nominations are coming soon, and this morning, the Critics Choice Awards made their selections for the best of film in 2023 public. As always, this means good news for those titles mentioned and a slightly tougher path forward for the snubs. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable selections and omissions and what they mean for the rest of the awards season.

The Oscar Predictors Get Predictable
The CCA has made no secret of the fact that one of their top priorities is to be the most accurate predictor of the Oscars’ nominations. They’ve even bragged in the past about how closely their picks align with the Academy’s eventual selections. And this year, their nominees are even more predictable than usual. In fact, looking at their picks, it would be easy to mistake them for the current Gold Derby rankings for the Oscar nominees. Not only did the CCA choose not to stray far from the expected favorites, but they also chose to offer few mentions to films outside their Best Picture selections. The only non-Best Picture films to score any acting nominations are “Rustin” in Best Actor, “Anatomy of a Fall” in Best Actress, “May December” in both Supporting categories, and “Nyad” in Best Supporting Actress. In addition, the only Best Picture nominees not receiving a Best Screenplay mention are “The Color Purple” and “Saltburn.” And the craft categories aren’t too varied either – the non-Best Picture nominees there include “Asteroid City” in Best Production Design, “Air” in Best Editing, “Priscilla” in Best Hair and Makeup, and “Napoleon” and “Wonka” in Best Costume Design. Best Visual Effects, Original Song, and Score have slightly more variety, but overall, this set of nominations sees many of the same titles repeating over and over.

Hi, Barbie!
Unsurprisingly, the biggest film of the year would do well here, but Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster surpassed all expectations with a whopping 18 nominations. That’s an all-time record for the Critics Choice Awards, far and away, zooming past the previous record-holders “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “The Shape of Water,” receiving 14 nominations each. In fact, “Barbie” managed to show up in nearly every category where it was eligible, including expected nominations in Best Picture, Actress (for Margot Robbie), Supporting Actor (for Ryan Gosling), Director, Original Screenplay, Production Design, and Costume Design. It also snagged more surprising mentions in Best Supporting Actress (for America Ferrera), Cinematography (where DP Rodrigo Prieto scored double nominations with this and “Killers of the Flower Moon“), Best Editing, and Original Score. Its tally is further buoyed by receiving three nominations in Best Original Song, mirroring the Golden Globes’ nominations in that category. Best Visual Effects is the only category where it might’ve shown up and didn’t. It’s doubtful that the Oscars will go as gaga for “Barbie” as the Critics Choice Awards did, but between this record-smashing reception and the Golden Globes’ similar love for the film, this week has proven that we’re truly living in a Barbie world.

Familiar Names Abound
But “Barbie” isn’t the only film that the voting organization went nuts over. Three other films racked up double-digit nomination counts – “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things” both received 13, and “Killers of the Flower Moon” got 12 mentions. Like “Barbie,” all three films hit nearly every category where they are eligible. The only arguable snubs for this trio are Willem Dafoe in Best Supporting Actor for “Poor Things,” “Oppenheimer” in Best Costumes, and “Killers of the Flower Moon” in Best Hair and Makeup. It’s widely expected that these three films, plus “Barbie,” will similarly tower over the Oscar nominations, and none show any signs of slowing down.

International Features Get Little Love
There’s already been a great deal of cross-over with foreign language features and precursor awards. “The Zone of Interest” won three awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, including Best Picture and Director. That organization also gave three wins to “Anatomy of a Fall.” Plus, that critics body and the New York Film Critics Circle gave “The Boy and the Heron” their Best Animated Feature prizes. In addition, the typically Hollywood-loving Golden Globes gave 11 nominations to non-English films outside of their Foreign Language category. So, it’s surprising how poorly international films fared at the Critics Choice Awards. Besides nominations in Best Actress and Young Actor or Actress for “Anatomy of a Fall,” Best Original Score for “Society of the Snow,” and Best Animated Film for “The Boy and the Heron,” international features were only found in the designated Best Foreign Language Film Category. Most notably, the acclaimed films “Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Zone of Interest” were shut out of the Best Picture, Director, or Screenplay categories. This is arguably the most international awards season of all time, making the English-centric Critics Choice nominations even more mystifying.

Amazon Scores Prime Nominations
Undoubtedly, the most surprising Best Picture nominee is “Saltburn,” the divisive follow-up from “Promising Young Woman” writer-director Emerald Fennell. It also appeared in the Best Cinematography and Production Design categories while strangely missing nominations for Best Actor for Barry Keoghan, Best Supporting Actress for Rosamund Pike, and Best Original Screenplay. Amazon Studios, which oversees US distribution for “Saltburn,” had a good morning overall, including five nominations for “American Fiction” (Sterling K. Brown’s Best Supporting Actor nomination bodes well for both that actor and the film’s overall chances) and three for “Air” including an important mention in Best Original Screenplay. Notably, Amazon specifically courted CCA members by flying them to Los Angeles for special screenings of their films, which clearly kept their movies front and center in voters’ minds.

The Acting Races Continue To Solidify
The CCAs have always had more nominees per category than most awards bodies, which allows them to claim greater accuracy regarding the Oscar’s eventual roster. But this year, the Golden Globes also expanded their nominee count to six per category, which means more than most seasons, we have more actors nominated by both important precursor groups. In fact, the CCA’s picks for Best Actor and Actress all received Golden Globes nominations. The only Critics Choice acting nominees not to be favored by the Globes are Sterling K. Brown for “American Fiction” in Supporting Actor (the Globes went with Willem Dafoe from “Poor Things” instead) and “Barbie’s” America Ferrera in Best Supporting Actress, who got in over the Globes’ preferred contender – Rosamund Pike for “Saltburn.” This is all good news for the 22 actors who got attention from both the CCA and the Golden Globes, as they will all be top of mind for Academy voters. The upcoming SAG nominations might shake things up slightly, as they tend to yield more surprise nominations than the other televised awards shows.

No Love For Fringe Acting Contenders
A small handful of performances needed a boost from the CCAs and, for one reason or another, failed to be nominated. Rachel McAdams was likely hoping for some love for her acclaimed work in “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” She recently won Best Supporting Performance from LAFCA, and her film managed to score nominations from the CCAs in Best Young Actor or Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s precisely the kind of lauded performance from an underseen movie that the CCAs were ostensibly founded to honor, and occasionally, their stamp of approval can be exactly the kind of helping hand that fringe contenders need. Just last year, eventual Oscar-nominee Brian Tyree Henry’s only televised precursor mention came from the CCAs. Similarly, Andrew Scott (“All of Us Strangers“) and Teyana Taylor (“A Thousand and One“) are nowhere to be found despite receiving some of the best reviews of the year. In addition, Annette Bening missed here while her “Nyad” costar Jodie Foster got in (which is what many pundits predict will happen at the Oscars).

“The Color Purple” Bounces Back…Sort Of
It’s been a strange week for the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s beloved novel. On Monday, it was shockingly not listed as one of the six nominees in the Best Picture – Musical or Comedy category at the Golden Globes. The Globes have previously made a habit of nominating practically any musical that’s released, including otherwise poorly received films like “Music,” “The Prom,” and “Nine,” among many, many others. So, it was incredibly bizarre for “The Color Purple,” which has received decent advance notices, to miss. The awards team at Warner Brothers must be feeling whiplash today after the film received five CCA nominations, including Best Picture, Supporting Actress, and Acting Ensemble. And yet, its star Fantasia Barrino was nowhere to be found in Best Actress. The film definitely needed this overall boost to remain a viable contender this awards season. Still, regardless of its overall prospects, it seems almost guaranteed that Danielle Brooks will receive a Best Supporting Actress nomination from the Academy and even stands an excellent chance to win for her scene-stealing turn as Sofia, the role played by Oprah Winfrey in the 1985 adaptation.

“Past Lives” Is Here To Stay
Since its premiere at Sundance nearly a year ago, Celine Song’s acclaimed debut “Past Lives” has been predicted as an awards contender. Some commentators doubted that such a small-scale, intimate film would manage to stay in the conversation in the face of flashier contenders from big studios, but it has yet to stumble this awards season. It’s already won the Gotham Award for Best Feature, topped the Independent Spirit nominations, and managed to score five nods at the Golden Globes. The little film had another good morning with three important nominations from the CCA – Best Picture, Actress, and Original Screenplay. It stands a solid chance at repeating its Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay mentions at the Oscars, and Greta Lee’s odds have increased with her CCA and Globe nominations. If she can score a SAG nomination, that just may solidify her chances.

Animated Feature Is A Race To Be Runner-Up
There’s no doubt that the top two contenders in Best Animated Feature are “The Boy and the Heron” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” Both are doing well with the critics awards, both scored Golden Globes and CCA nominations for Best Animated Feature, and both are solid hits. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is the third highest-grossing film of the year at the domestic box office, and “Heron” somewhat surprisingly topped the box office in its debut this past weekend. Besides these two titans, the remaining three slots at the Oscars remain fluid. “Elemental” and “Wish” are the only other films to score nominations from both awards bodies, both decidedly more divisive than their competition. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “Suzume” were the additional Globes nominees, and “Nimona” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” were the remaining CCA nominees. All are possible contenders for the Oscar, along with the Polish film “The Peasants.”

What were your biggest surprises among the Critics Choice Award nominees? Did any frontrunners change in your predictions? Did you enjoy this year’s nominations or did you find them lacking? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and check out our latest Oscar predictions here.

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Cody Dericks
Cody Dericks
Actor, awards & musical theatre buff. Co-host of the horror film podcast Halloweeners.

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