The nominations for the 2023 Critics’ Choice Awards were announced yesterday, and the coverage was overall more robust than what we saw earlier in the week for the Golden Globes. The Critics’ Choice Association is actively trying to snake the Globes’ place as THE pre-Oscar awards show, and so far, their plan seems to be working (full disclosure: I am a voting member of the CCA).
If the Globes really do turn out as anemic as some are predicting, this could be the year the CCAs solidify as the preeminent pre-Oscar ceremony. And they have a pretty solid slate of nominees to help them get there, with Everything Everywhere All At Once leading the way with fourteen nominations, followed by The Fabelmans with eleven nominations, undeserved but not surprising, as it’s Spielberg’s “most personal” film (I don’t think that’s true, but I am not going to die on this stupid hill).
Thanks to a tie, the Best Picture nominations came out to eleven, including Tollywood hit RRR, blockbusters Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, crowd pleasers like Elvis and Glass Onion, The Serious Stuff aka Women Talking, and, of course, indie triumph of the year, Everything Everywhere All At Once. The field is rounded out by Tár, The Fabelmans, The Banshees of Inisherin, and Babylon, which isn’t even out yet and is thus this year’s “no one has even seen this yet” nomination. It’s a healthy field, a nice mix of big and small, and it’s nice to see fun movies like RRR, Maverick, EEAAO, and Glass Onion get held up alongside the more “serious” efforts like Women Talking and Tár. This has been an increasing problem for the Oscars over the last twenty years, but if ever there was a year to go for the big movies and the smaller ones, it’s this year.
The CCAs allow for six nominees in the acting categories, thus, Tom Cruise slips in. I am SO curious to see if he shows up. I truly believe since he lost Best Supporting Actor for Magnolia, he stopped chasing trophies. It probably feels good to be nominated—who doesn’t like a gold star?—but if Tom Cruise told me he doesn’t care about awards, I would believe him. He cares about making movies and getting people to go see those movies, and I think he’s chalked the rest up to sh-t he can’t control, so it just doesn’t exist in his world. But IF he turns up at the CCAs, it would be a signal, no? That he’s at least willing to meet his peers halfway. He’s not totally tuning the conversation out. Although I can also see a scenario unfolding in which Cruise blows off most of awards season—he’ll show up at the Oscars if Maverick is nominated, that’s just diplomatic—but then goes to something like the Taurus World Stunt Awards, because he will ALWAYS show up for the craft community.
The other acting nominations are a preview of the Oscars. Ke Huy Quan, the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor is nominated, as is Michelle Yeoh. Best Actress is VERY competitive, but it’s looking more and more like it will come down to Yeoh and Cate Blanchett, with Danielle Deadwyler coming on strong for her performance in Till. They’re all CCA nominees. Also, Angela Bassett is one step closer to that Oscar nomination, as she is one of six nominees for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And Brendan Fraser continues to lead the odds for Best Actor, but his closest competition—Austin Butler and Colin Farrell—are also nominated. So is Bill Nighy, as Living has started charting since it is approaching its US release and has started screening for critics (review next week! I cried a bunch!). And I’m glad to see Paul Mescal bag a nomination for Aftersun. I was a latecomer to that film but JFC, what a crushing work, Mescal is brilliant, as is his young co-star, Frankie Corio, who was nominated for Best Young Actor/Actress.
The CCAs do what the Oscars need to and allow for ten Best Director nominations. It’s slightly off this year because again, a tie in the Best Picture nominees brought that field up to eleven, but the directors are largely synonymous with the Best Picture nominations. The only differences are Gina Prince-Bythewood being nominated while The Woman King was not, and neither Rian Johnson nor Joseph Kosinski got director nominations, though Glass Onion and Maverick are Best Pic nominees. Johnson, at least, got a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination (adapted, I guess, because Benoit Blanc is now a pre-existing character), but it mystifies me how we’ve all decided Top Gun: Maverick just didn’t have a director.
I know most everyone has checked out on awards shows, and I understand why—they’re ponderous overly serious affairs taking place up the asshole of Hollywood!—but I am pretty excited for this awards season. This is such a strong mix of films, with such a good balance between the big crowd pleasers and the smaller objets d’art, it’s GREAT to see RRR getting such widespread recognition after it crept up on everyone over the summer following its premiere on Netflix—Netflix has a lot of problems but nothing else in film right now has the same ability to create crossover hits—and I am BEYOND stoked EEAAO is getting legitimate consideration in many categories, not just for Yeoh and Quan.
The Academy will still have to prove they can put aside their genre bias, but the momentum is building for EEAAO to round out is “little engine that could” year with a bevy of Oscar nominations. After two hellacious, bleak years, 2022 has been an all-around feel-good year at the cinema. Even the bummer movies, like Women Talking, come with powerhouse performances and cathartic conclusions that remind us of the power of communal emotion. There are still so many problems and unknowns facing the film industry, but a lot of great movies came out in 2022, some of which people even saw IN THEATERS. It’s a miracle worth celebrating.