I walked up to Kevin Costner and said, “I lost $40 in your casino,” referring to his Midnight Star in Deadwood named for the saloon in his first major film, “Silverado.” He gave me a look like a mime gives you when you push him off his imaginary beam.
But that was my M.O. as I flittered around the Hollywood Palladium at last week’s 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards talking with stars about everything except what they had come to talk about.
Costner was there to receive our Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his three-decade body of work which includes many of my favorites, like “JFK,” “Dances with Wolves” and “The Untouchables.” Other special awards went to Jessica Chastain (Critics’ Choice MVP Award) and Ron Howard (The LOUIS XIII Critics’ Choice Genius Award) from whom I drew a chuckle saying I was a fan as far back as “Eat My Dust!”
There was lots of talk about the industry’s absence of diversity, as well, instigated by the morning’s Oscar nominations. Few people of Eastern European descent, for instance, have ever been recognized. Fellow Slovak Angelina Jolie, there for her remarkable film on the life of WWII survivor Louis Zamperini, “Unbroken,” was passed over. (I did get to speak with her for a few moments about our shared ancestry which she admitted she hadn’t investigated but ought to for her children, to which I said, “Dobre!”) “Selma,” the more-or-less historic account of MLK’s historic march, received only a nod for Best Song.
“Boyhood” and “Birdman” fared well as was expected. Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making heartfelt chronicle of growing-up was the Critics’ Choice for best picture and him for best director; while Michael Keaton collected two chunks of gaudy crystal — one each for Best Actor and Best Actor in a comedy — and a shard of another, Best Ensemble.
The big surprise of the night was the poor showings of two of the year’s best films: David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” and Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper.” It’s no secret that Eastwood is a pariah on the Left Coast but I had hoped the critics would look past their political proclivities for this intense gut-wrenching biopic of Navy hero Chris Kyle. (Bradley Cooper, who portrayed Kyle, was the Critics’ Choice for Best Actor in an Action Movie.)
Likewise, with Ben Affleck as its lead and an outstanding performance from Rosamund Pike it was perplexing that “Gone Girl” seemed to be gone from everyone’s radar. (Julianne Moore was the unlikely Critics’ Choice for best Actress in “Still Alice.”)
Other awards went to “The Lego Movie” for Best Animated Feature, “Guardians of the Galaxy” for Best Action Movie and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” for Best Comedy.
Perhaps the biggest winner of the evening was yours truly. I sat across from Tyler Perry, chatted with Patrick Stewart about his guest role on “Frasier” during one of the breaks and with swinger Jon Favreau about his charming film “Chef” during another.
The only drawback was having to endure 75-degree sun-filled days on my way to the hot tub — or as they call it in Beverly Hills, “The miniature c-ment pond.” But as Hyman Roth famously said in “The Godfather: Part II,” “this is the business we’ve chosen.”