Critics' Choice Awards: Michael Keaton Soars to Three Wins, Flies Off Stage on Big Night (Analysis)

THR's awards analyst also notes that, just hours after Oscar noms were announced, the BFCA gave prizes to Oscar-snubbed contenders in its adapted screenplay, doc, animated film, foreign-language film, editing and score categories.
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Michael Keaton at the Critics' Choice Awards

You've gotta tip your cap to Selma's Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo, Cake's Jennifer Aniston, Unbroken's Angelina Jolie, Big Eyes' Amy Adams, A Most Violent Year's Jessica Chastain, Nightcrawler's Rene Russo, Gone Girl's Gillian Flynn, Chef's Jon Favreau, Life Itself's Steve James and The Lego Movie's Chris Miller and Phil Lord, among others: Late on Thursday, a day on which they likely woke up early hoping to learn that they had received Oscar nominations only to be disappointed, they still showed up at the Hollywood Palladium for the 20th Critics' Choice Awards (which were hosted by Michael Strahan and aired on A&E). And some of them, like Argo's Ben Affleck two years ago, even picked up a pretty nice consolation prize.

While much of the industry's fascination with the Critics' Choice Awards — to the extent that you can call it that — is about seeing who shows up and who doesn't under the aforementioned circumstances, the fact is that the Critics' Choice Awards — which are determined by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), of which I am a member — also happen to be one of the better predictors of Oscar success.

See more Critics' Choice Movie Awards: The Red-Carpet Arrivals

The BFCA's best picture choice has gone on to win the best picture Oscar in seven of the last eight years (only The Social Network missed), and their acting winners have matched up on 16 of 20 occasions over the last four years. There is, of course, no particular rhyme or reason for this — the BFCA is composed of roughly 250 journalists who cover movies, whereas the Academy comprises more than 6,000 people who make them — but that doesn't keep the industry from paying very close attention to who is nominated for or wins the Critics' Choice Awards.

And that is why many people think that Thursday night was a very good one for Birdman's veteran star Michael Keaton, who prevailed in his first head-to-head matchup with The Theory of Everything's Eddie Redmayne (both won best actor Golden Globes in separate categories) to win the best actor award; the 63-year-old also won best actor in a comedy and was a part of the best ensemble.

Keaton's three acceptance speeches didn't hurt him either, with funny asides about his joy at receiving attention ("I'll take anything, honestly"), the scene in Birdman in which he lambastes a critic ("It was Ed Norton's idea") and just running out of things to say ("I just want to thank anyone who's ever thrown me a solid"). Unfortunately, after his third speech, he accidentally fell four feet off the stage. Fortunately, he seemed to land on his feet uninjured and was wrapped into a hug by Boyhood's Ethan Hawke, of whom he had just been very complimentary.

Read more Critics' Choice Awards: The Winners

Speaking of Boyhood, that film, the presumptive best picture Oscar frontrunner, proved to truly be the critics' choice, picking up four prizes, including the biggest, best picture, as well as best director (Richard Linklater), best supporting actress (Patricia Arquette) and best young actor/actress (Ellar Coltrane). The winners of the two other major prizes — best actress Julianne Moore (Still Alice) and best supporting actor J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) — were also heavy favorites, as were best art direction and best costume design winner The Grand Budapest Hotel and best cinematography winner Birdman.

More interesting results included The Grand Budapest Hotel upsetting Birdman to win best comedy, just as it did at the Golden Globes last weekend; Birdman beating Boyhood to win best original screenplay; the Oscar-nominated Selma song "Glory" winning best song over a field that included two other Oscar nominees, Begin Again's "Lost Stars" and The Lego Movie's "Everything Is Awesome," on what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 86th birthday; and the Oscar-nominated hairstyling and makeup of Guardians of the Galaxy winning best hair and makeup over a field that included fellow Oscar nominee Foxcatcher.

And how about some Oscar revenge?

Gone Girl's Flynn, who could have become the first female ever Oscar-nominated for adapting her own novel into a screenplay, but who was snubbed by the Academy earlier in the day, won the Critics' Choice adapted screenplay prize over a field that included three films that did get Oscar noms, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice and The Theory of Everything.

Read more Critics' Choice Awards: 'Lego Movie' Co-Director, Jessica Chastain Speak Out About Oscar Snubs

Life Itself, James' film about the most influential and beloved of film critics, Roger Ebert, which also was snubbed by the Academy, won best documentary over a field that included two Oscar nominees, Citizenfour and Last Days in Vietnam. 

Miller and Lord's  The Lego Movie, yet another Academy snub, won best animated film over a field that included three Oscar nominees, Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Force Majeure, Sweden's Oscar-shortlisted submission for the best foreign-language film Oscar that was not among the five nominees announced yesterday (much to the outrage of its director), won best foreign-language film over a field that included three of the final five, Ida, Leviathan and Wild Tales.

And Birdman, which was deemed ineligible for the best original score Oscar not long ago, won best score over a field that included three Oscar-nominated scores: The Imitation Game, Interstellar and The Theory of Everything. It also won best film editing, another category for which it was not nominated at the Oscars, over a field that included two Oscar nominees, Boyhood and Whiplash.

See more Oscars: 'Lego Movie,' Jennifer Aniston, Clint Eastwood, 'Life Itself' Among Snubs

The Critics' Choice Awards also feature a number of categories that do not exist at the Oscars or most other award shows, but which offered other Oscar contenders some acclaim. For instance, on Thursday night, best picture Oscar nominee American Sniper won best action movie and best actor Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper won best actor in an action movie.

Other winners included the lovely Emily Blunt, my tablemate at table No. 21 — nicknamed by Strahan "21 Blunt Street" — for best actress in an action movie (Edge of Tomorrow); Obvious Child's Jenny Slate for best actress in a comedy; and Interstellar for best sci-fi/horror movie.

The night's three recipients of special awards were Jessica Chastain, who received the inaugural MVP Award for her turns in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Interstellar, Miss Julie and A Most Violent Year; Kevin Costner, who received the lifetime achievement award; and Ron Howard, who received the Louis XIII Genius Award. Howard's prize was probably initially coordinated to promote the March 13 release of his next directorial effort In the Heart of the Sea, but on Wednesday that film's release was pushed to Dec. 11, right into the heart of the next awards season — which nobody should even begin to think about until we get through this one just over a month from now!

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg

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