If Sylvester Stallone was the sun — and I think he believes he is based on the number of handlers and security that insulated him at Sunday’s Critics’ Choice Awards — my orbit was beyond the outer planets, something more akin to asteroid 624 Hektor. Of course, there are some advantages to sitting so close to the men’s room … uhhm, actually there are not. (Tip: Don’t go in there after Bryan Cranston.)
This year’s celebration consolidated our Broadcast Film Critics Association and its sister television group, which doubled the event’s size, a move many of us thought compromised the intimacy of past shows. (I needed to take a shuttle to table-hop during commercial breaks.) Still, the opportunity to trade Rochester record-low temps for 60-somethings more than made up for the negatives.
Which is not to say I didn’t go in with some skepticism. Robert Zemeckis’ uplifting “The Walk” was snubbed, as was one of the funniest films of the year, “A Walk in the Woods,” which starred Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. “What happened?” I asked Kristen Schaal, one of the film’s bright spots and the voice of Louise on “Bob’s Burgers.” She just shrugged. As did I at all of the accolades directed at “Mad Max: Fury Road,” an OK film but hardly award-worthy.
The night was filled with other surprises. Alejandro Iñárritu did not win for “The Revenant” as many of us thought he should, nor did Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight,” which was the year’s best film in one of the unusual, but not rare, times the Best Director and Best Film split. Instead, George Miller won for “Mad Max.”
It was in the “Best Supporting Actor” category where the most legitimate competition could be found. Tom Hardy was great in “The Revenant” as was Paul Dano as the young Beach Boy Brian Wilson in “Love & Mercy.” Smart money was on Stallone for his performance in “Creed,” and he prevailed, but any of the three were equally deserving.
“The Big Short” — an interesting tale of how betting on mortgage loans that should have never been extended in the first place caused the so-called housing crisis and Great Recession — was the “Best Comedy,” which made as much sense as last week’s award to Matt Damon’s “The Martian” in the same category. Moves that I can only presume offer some kind of consolation prize to dramas that didn’t go all the way and a slight to laugh-out-loud movies like Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham’s“Spy” and Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck.”
One of the highlights of the event was my opportunity to chat with Minneapolis native Vincent Kartheiser, who starred in the 2011 sci-fi thriller “In Time” and occasionally returns to the Cities to perform, most recently in a Guthrie presentation of “Pride and Prejudice.”
Of course, Kartheiser is better known as the ambitious Peter Campbell in the critically acclaimed AMC series “Mad Men,” of which I am a fan. Kartheiser winced when I mentioned the sub-zero temps he is missing but lit up when I said I admired his quotable dialog, “A thing like that,” I said. “That’s my favorite from the series,” was his quick response though I countered with, “Well I’m the pres…” to which he interrupted finishing my sentence, “… the president of the Howdy Doody circus army!” (“Mad Men” fans understand, trust me.)
This was the 21st annual presentation of the Critics Choice Movie Awards, which have historically been a bellwether of the Oscars, but this year, I’m not so sure.
Critics’ Choice Awards: The envelope? Pa-leeze!
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”
Brie Larson in “Room”
Best Supporting Actor
Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”
Best Supporting Actress
Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”
George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Emmanuel Lubezki for “The Revenant,” his third consecutive
Best Animated Feature
Best Action Movie
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Big Short”