One thing I always like to remind you dear readers is that the critics awards are not the Oscars. They are not the Oscars for a variety of reasons but one of the main reasons is that AMPAS voters are not critics. Not only are they not film critics, but they aren’t bloggers or movie writers or press or anything like that; they are professionals, or ex-professionals, responsible for the product we ruminate on and write about. Nonetheless, one looks at the recent list of Critics Choice awards and one can’t help but get a little excited in hopes that the Oscars are slightly similar. The Critics Choice come close to matching Oscar but never exactly.
A few names I was happy to see on the list include Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones – a film I feel was greatly misunderstood (and I would feel that way whether they had ads on this site or not). It seems to me that, and who am I to judge the opinions of others, everyone else had an idea about how that movie SHOULD go based on the book. But they forgot that it would be directed by a visionary like Peter Jackson, and adapted by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens – did they really expect The Silence of the Lambs meets The Ice Storm? Or maybe Mystic River? By a filmmaker who made all three Lord of the Rings films, Heavenly Creatures and King Kong? I think the critics were way too harsh and those reviews reflected, to me, a lack of imagination on the part of the critic; how in the world can we trust those opinions if those opinions are so bland to begin with?
An odd and unique film like The Lovely Bones may or not be salvaged from the bad reviews – perhaps in time a few may pull it out and appreciate it. Okay, sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent. Needless to say, Ronan and Tucci are well deserving and I love that the BFCA had the balls to go there.
So this is probably our closest list so far that could resemble how the Oscars are going to go. How the various critics’ groups fit in is that they can sometimes showcase a film, an actor or a writer who has fallen off the radar or needs some sort of validation. It can also start to show if one person is the strongest in a category, or whether it’s all over the map. However, and we must remind ourselves of this during this phase of the awards process, critics are not Academy voters, and they are not SAG voters and they are not DGA voters. Critics have a different set of criteria for judging great works.
However, and nonetheless let it be said that a good movie is a good movie is a good movie and it won’t matter who you are, or what your vocation, if it is one everyone agrees upon it’s a done deal. This was the case with No Country for Old Men and it was the case with Slumdog Millionaire. The Departed followed a different trajectory. It was a good movie but it wasn’t necessarily a critics’ movie. And it took a while for the grease and the meat to separate to reveal The Departed as your Best Picture winner. That was an uncommonly great year.
This year, it appears that the films are also up in the air, so to speak, as to which film is “the favorite.” We aren’t in a Slumdog year, that much is clear so far. If we were, one film would be winning everything already, and it isn’t. The Critics Choice have now exhibited a scenario where films with many possible category nominations could do well at the Oscars — and again, a reminder – critics who vote on things like Visual Effects, Art Direction, Costumes, Score, etc. are not professionals in those fields, as the voting Academy members are. So, always, remember that when making your final Oscar predictions.
Up next, the New York Film critics today, the Golden Globe nominations tomorrow, SAG on Thursday.