Critics Choice Awards: ‘Everything everywhere at once’ packs a punch

The CCAs gave Everything Everywhere All At Once steam on its way to the Oscar nominations. “The Fabelmans”, not so much.

The Critic’s Choice Awards at the Fairmont Hotel in Century City were a noisy affair as everyone involved in the results roared for their favorites. The A24 gang out front by the stage erupted loudly as Ke Huy Quan won again (as “Elvis” star Austin Butler and many others stood up and applauded) for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and then again, it won overall five awards including Best Director, Original Screenplay and Picture for the Daniels.

It was always new to the A24 table, though Brendan Fraser wept to another standing ovation as he accepted his award for his moving performance in The Whale. At the end of the night, as the room cheered them on, the Daniels thanked A24, “the most supportive studio ever”. This winner have strong momentum at the SAG Awards, BAFTAs, Indie Spirits and the ultimate goal, the Oscars on March 12th.

Not getting that boost: Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans (which won Best Newcomer for Gabriel LaBelle) and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, which will likely do better at the BAFTAs.

At my table, Titanic star Suzy Amis cheered on her 23-year-old husband, Jim Cameron. His contender for best picture, Avatar: The Way of Water, cost $350 million, according to the night’s top presenter Chelsea Handler, while rival Sarah Polley “had to shoot ‘Women Talking’ in a barn.”

Every film has settled for a VFX/adapted script price, although you’d have to watch the screen like a hawk to see those announcements. The three-hour CCA Awards rushed ahead, but the organization of more than 600 national media outlets (myself included) honored both television and film, so not all awards were presented live.

Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser accepts the Best Actor award for The Whale at the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for the Critics Choice Association

India’s SS Rajamouli had a good night as ‘RRR’ won Best Foreign Film and Song (‘Naatu Naatu’) – a category awarded ahead of the red carpet show. At the end of the evening, Cameron went over to tell Rajamouli how much he said “RRR” (which means Rajamouli posted on Twitteroh well).

Actor Stephen Lang had fun at the The Way of Water table alongside dazzling young breakouts Trinity Jo-Li Bliss and Jack Bright and producer Jon Landau analyzing the winners’ speeches (“You’ve got to rehearse!” “Time to stop!”). Points from Lang went to Fraser (“Rise And Walk To The Light, Good Things Will Happen”) and supporting players Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”) and Jennifer Coolidge (” White Lotus”), which received by far the warmest reception in the room. “It’s not over until it’s over,” she told the room. “It’s not over until you’re dead.”

The energy in the room was palpable. “We’re here to have fun and keep the spirits high,” Handler admitted to Anya Taylor-Joy and winner Cate Blanchett, who gave Stealth Oscar nominee Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie) a mention, as she won Best Actress for TAR, which also won Best Original Score for Hildur Guðnadóttir (it’s not eligible for an Oscar).

“I dream of chuckying every single one of you guys,” said host Aubrey Plaza.

Covid kept Michelle Pfeiffer and Globes contestants Jamie Lee Curtis, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson from appearing, neither of whom won. (“Did they know in advance?” Lang asked.)


James Cameron and Guillermo del Toro at the 2023 Critic Choice Awards.

Anne Thompson

Cameron held court with well-wishers during commercial breaks, including winners Ruth Carter (costumes, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”), Giancarlo Esposito (supporting actor, “Better Call Saul”), Rian Johnson (comedy and ensemble, “Glass Onion: a ‘Knives Out’ Mystery”), and his 33-year-old sidekick Guillermo del Toro, who cheered him on as he again won Best Animated Feature for “Pinocchio” (he’ll do it again at Oscar night). Cameron was visibly moved. “With ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ I took a new story and tried to make it last,” said del Toro. “With ‘Pinocchio’ I took an eternal story and tried to make it new again.”

The show played well in space; On air, it was hosted by low-rated CW. As host Seth Rogen pointed out, “I’m not saying the CW is bad. What I’m saying is it’s the only network that hasn’t received any Critics Choice nominations – she say it’s bad. We’re on your least popular network. How did this happen? Nominate yourself next time, you would have won. Nobody is going to think it’s weird, they’re going to think it’s okay.”

Will the awards show, which historically has meager ratings, ever catch up with the better-branded but shaky Golden Globes? Last year in January, the CCAs snagged a Sunday night slot when the Globes were tallied. This year, the show stayed put while the Globes had to settle for a Tuesday night and woefully low ratings.

The fate of the Globes on NBC remains to be determined; the SAG Awards will transition to Netflix over time. But at least at the CCA Awards, it’s all up.

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