By Daniel Howat
The Critics’ Choice Awards are officially over, giving us our last major awards show before the Oscar nominations on March 15th. After several surprises at last week’s Golden Globes, we were looking toward tonight’s awards to give us some much-needed clarity in a few categories. Ultimately, we ended up with very few surprises. The awards essentially transpired as expected, but let’s dive in and discuss how this could affect the Oscar race.
MARIA BAKALOVA WINS SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Without a doubt, the category most up in the air this year is Best Supporting Actress. Maria Bakalova won tonight for her outrageously funny role in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” snagging a high-profile win to a performance that typically wouldn’t get much awards attention. Youn Yuh-jung (“Minari“) racked up the most awards from the critics’ groups, but Jodie Foster shockingly won the Golden Globe for her work in the late-breaking “The Mauritanian.” Meanwhile, Bakalova’s surprising loss in the Lead Actress – Musical/Comedy category led to doubts about her strength up against her actual Oscar competitors. This is certainly a boost for her Oscar chances. It doesn’t seem likely that Bakalova will win at SAG or BAFTA, meaning we could very well get different winners at all of the major precursors for Supporting Actress. This last happened in 2007. It’s honestly anyone’s game at this point.
CAREY MULLIGAN WINS BEST ACTRESS
While many (including yours truly) dreaded a tie in Best Actress, Carey Mulligan alone prevailed in the end for her work in “Promising Young Woman.” Andra Day winning the Globe threw this category for a bit of a loop when she won for Lee Daniels’ latest film “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” Day isn’t nominated for SAG or even longlisted for the BAFTA. With Mulligan likely to win the BAFTA given it’s her home turf, this CCA win gives Mulligan a solid leg up toward the Oscar win. If someone other than Mulligan were to win at SAG, however, this category would be just as confusing as Supporting Actress. I’m sticking with predicting Mulligan until then.
“NOMADLAND” WINS BIG
Continuing its winning streak, “Nomadland” won Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Cinematography. Globe and CCA wins put the movie in great shape, but PGA will solidify “Nomadland’s” place in the Best Picture race. For now, it feels hard to believe that anyone could win Director over Chloe Zhao and is starting to feel the same way for Adapted Screenplay. Regardless of what happens at the guilds, “Nomadland” is poised for a great morning on March 15th.
“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” WINS BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Emerald Fennell scored a big win tonight, winning Original Screenplay for “Promising Young Woman.” Along with Mulligan’s win, things are looking very good for the film all around. As many have said throughout the fall, “Promising Young Woman” is in a comparable position to “Get Out.” While “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is tough competition, considering it’s battling with “Nomadland” for Best Picture, “Get Out” was still able to win Original Screenplay over eventual Best Picture winner “The Shape of Water.” Could “Promising Young Woman” do the same? WGA should help clarify this race some.
A TIE IN EDITING
Even though we avoided a tie in Best Actress, the night wasn’t tie-free! “The Trial of the Chicago 7” tied with “Sound of Metal” to win Best Editing. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” has been largely predicted to eventually win the Oscar, especially with the film being a top competitor for Best Picture. The “Sound of Metal” win here is a strong craft win for the film that feels very much like an underdog. Many obvious comparisons can be made to “Whiplash,” not just because they’re both about drummers. Could this be the start to a Best Editing win and more for “Sound of Metal“?
ALAN KIM STEALS THE NIGHT
One of the best things about the Critics’ Choice Awards is their Best Young Actor/Actress award. We don’t get many opportunities to highlight these young performers, and it’s always a pleasure. Tonight, “Minari” star Alan Kim won the award, accepting it with a precious speech full of tears. He thanked his family and pinched his cheeks to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Much like Lee Isaac Chung’s wonderful speech for Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, Kim’s speech will serve up a great boost for the campaign. With Oscar voting officially underway, the “Minari” team’s lovability could go a long way.
DANIEL KALUUYA & CHADWICK BOSEMAN WIN AGAIN
Just like at the Globes, Daniel Kaluuya and Chadwick Boseman won Supporting Actor and Actor, respectively. Boseman is looking like he’s on his way to a clean sweep across the major precursors ahead of the Oscars for his haunting role as Levee in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (which picked up two other wins last night in Best Costume Design & Best Hair & Makeup). It’s one of the few safe bets we have in this wild Oscar season. Kaluuya, on the other hand, seems to be bringing some clarity to a category that we expected to be as up in the air as Best Supporting Actress. While it looked like Sacha Baron Cohen might’ve been ready to sweep due to his strong campaign this year, these are two big wins for Kaluuya. His wins are also helping his film, “Judas And The Black Messiah,” to stay in the conversation for a possible Best Picture nomination. Still, this doesn’t feel as safe a bet as Boseman, but it’s a strong start to the race for him.
OTHER NOTABLE MOMENTS
- “Tenet” wins Visual Effects, which is one of the tougher craft categories to predict this year.
- “Speak Now” wins Original Song from “One Night In Miami“, giving it a boost after losing the Globe to “lo Sí.”
- “Soul” continues on as the frontrunner for Best Original Score.
Even though we got very few surprises tonight, there are still plenty of races that feel very up in the air. As the guild awards begin in the coming weeks, they should help bring much-needed clarity to how this awards season will shake out. The Oscar nominations will finally be here in just one week, and we’ll see if tonight’s awards had much of an impact.
What was the biggest surprise of the night for you? Did tonight’s awards change your predictions at all? How do you think these awards will impact the Oscars? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Twitter account. Be sure to listen to our immediate reactions to the show here and check out our latest Oscar predictions here.
You can follow Daniel and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @howatdk