Critics' Choice Awards: 'Spotlight' Holds Court, 'Mad Max' Claims Most Prizes (Analysis)

The Broadcast Film Critics Association, which includes some 300 journalists from across the country, backed nearly all of the presumptive Oscar favorites, including a film about heroic journalists.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
'Spotlight' wins best picture Critics' Choice Award

Did the Critics' Choice Awards, which were held at The Hangar in Santa Monica on Sunday night, tell us anything about the Academy Awards to come on Feb. 28? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Past best picture Critics' Choice winners-turned-best picture Oscar losers include Brokeback Mountain, The Social Network and, just last year, Boyhood. The discrepancies are understandable, considering that the Critics' Choice Awards are voted on by hundreds of journalists, while the Oscars are voted on by thousands of people who actually work on movies.

Even so, if only for the sake of perception, it felt essential for the best picture Oscar hopes of Spotlight, a film about journalists, for the film to win the best picture Critics' Choice Award, if only because of the voting constituency — and sure enough it did, holding off all seven of the other films opposite which it is nominated for the top Oscar (The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant and Room), plus three others (Carol, Sicario and Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

The 21st Critics' Choice Awards were the first ever to celebrate both films and TV — until now, the different media had been feted at separate ceremonies, but A&E wanted to create a ceremony comparable to the Golden Globe Awards, and that they did. There were a ton of categories presented, either during the show or during commercial breaks, but the evening, which was hosted by Silicon Valley's T.J. Miller, felt fun and relaxed.

Many of the big winners on the film side were expected — and absent — including best director George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road); best actor Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant); best actress Brie Larson (Room); best original screenplay Spotlight (Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer); best animated feature Inside Out (Pete Docter); best documentary feature Amy (Asif Kapadia); and best foreign language film Son of Saul (Laszlo Nemes).

Other winners were expected and were on hand, including best supporting actor Sylvester Stallone (Creed), who got a standing ovation and thanked everyone he needed to this time; best supporting actress Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), who gave a classy speech and returned to the stage to accept best sci-fi movie (Ex Machina); best adapted screenplay The Big Short (Adam McKay and Charles Randolph); best young actor/actress Jacob Tremblay (Room), who totally charmed the room; and best ensemble Spotlight (accepted by Rachel McAdams).

Other winners included Furious 7 for best original song ("See You Again"); The Hateful Eight for best original score (Ennio Morricone); The Revenant for best cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki); Mad Max: Fury Road for best costume design, best film editing, best hair and makeup, best production design, best visual effects, best action movie and best actor (Tom Hardy) and best actress (Charlize Theron) therein; The Big Short for best comedy and best actor therein (Christian Bale); and Trainwreck's Amy Schumer, my tablemate, for best actress in a comedy, as well as the Critics' Choice MVP Award for her overall body of work in 2015.

Now it's time for the guilds — people who actually make movies, like the members of the Academy — to weigh in, and that could just as easily negate as reaffirm all of the above.