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The 18th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards were held in Santa Monica on the evening of Jan. 10, just hours after the Academy issued some of its most baffling best director Oscar nominations on record. The filmmakers behind three of the year’s top contenders — Argo‘s Ben Affleck, Zero Dark Thirty‘s Kathryn Bigelow and Les Miserables‘ Tom Hooper, each of whom had been nominated for the DGA Award earlier in the week — were shockingly snubbed by the roughly 300 members of the Academy’s directors branch.
Then, much to the surprise of many, and to their credit, all three still put on a stiff upper lip and showed up at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. Of course, the same topic was on everyone’s minds as one won a major award, another was tearfully thanked by another award winner and the third was ribbed by a prominent writer-director.
The best director category was presented midway through the ceremony, and when Affleck was announced as the winner — over Bigelow and Hooper, as well as three who did receive best director Oscar nominations on Thursday, Ang Lee (Life of Pi), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) — the audience turned to his table and spontaneously rose to a standing ovation in a clear show of support and comfort. Affleck clearly was wounded by the morning’s news but heartened by this late development as he began his acceptance speech by saying, “I would like to thank the Academy,” then skipped a beat and added, “Just kidding! This is the one that counts.” (Argo later was awarded best picture, as well.)
Moments later, Bigelow received her own sustained applause as the star of her film, Jessica Chastain, was announced — in something of a surprise result — as the best actress winner. When Chastain arrived at Bigelow’s name in her list of thank yous, she choked up, and the audience gave the director — who three years ago became the first female to ever win the best director Oscar, for The Hurt Locker (2009) — a sustained applause.
A less touching moment came when Judd Apatow, the noted writer-director/producer of comedies, was accepting the Louis XIII Genius Award and began riffing on various audience members. He eventually came to Hooper — who has a fairly expressionless face on even the best of days — and said, “Stop sulking, Tom Hooper!”
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