To hear many people talk about this year’s Oscar race you will hear them say the same thing over and over again, “It’s been the Artist since Cannes.” There are some Oscar years where the undertow is simply too strong to fight against. There are also some Oscar years where surprises are hiding in the shadows. While last night the Critics Choice, a group that mostly tries to align themselves with Oscar and/or supplant the Golden Globes in precursor status, went overwhelmingly with The Artist for Picture and Director, Score and Costume, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer took Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, which is shocking in and of itself, but especially shocking considering how predictable the race has seemed so far.
For those wins, and really only those wins, the BFCA might actually end up being somewhat influential after all, as this has been the first critics awards that has not gone to either Meryl Streep or Michelle Williams. In every other way, I’m afraid, the Critics Choice mostly fell in line with conventional thinking. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It really could be that we’re in for a year like Slumdog Millionaire which, if you remember that year, was like having to sit through the Don’t Stop Believin‘ for an entire weekend. It’s pretty great the first couple of times you hear it but after a while you start to feel impatience creep in and before you know it you’re unleashing waves of hatred for something fairly harmless. Why, because we don’t want people to always agree one everything. Sooner or later popular opinion becomes distasteful. So then we have to wonder, why do actually want any film to win if we’re just going to hate it in the end?