Critics' Choice Noms Analysis: 'Irishman,' 'Little Women' and 'Parasite' Surge, 'Two Popes' and 'Honey Boy' Crash

The Hollywood Reporter's awards columnist Scott Feinberg, a Critics' Choice Awards voter, dissects Sunday's announcement and how it may impact campaigns moving forward.
Courtesy of Netflix
'The Irishman'

There are virtually no film critics or journalists in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but the nominations of the Critics' Choice Awards generally include more of the eventual nominees for the Academy Awards than any other precursor group. This is partly because the Critics' Choice Awards have as many as six or seven nominees in categories in which the Academy has only five. But I think it is also partly because voting members of the Critics' Choice Association — of which I am one — have tastes that are not all that different from Academy members'.

That being the case, for whatever the reasons — among them, that both groups are largely Los Angeles-based, subjected to the same sort of campaigning and look for similar things in movies — Sunday morning's nominations for the 25th Critics' Choice Awards should leave some campaigns very excited and others very panicked.

The clear winner of the day is The Irishman, which, on the heels of best picture nods with the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle, landed a field-leading 14 Critics' Choice nominations. It essentially got everything its backers could have hoped for, including picture, director (Martin Scorsese), actor (Robert De Niro) and two supporting actor (Al Pacino and Joe Pesci) noms.

Netflix had plenty of other reasons to be happy, too, as it led all distributors with 61 total noms (spread between film and TV, which is nearly twice that of the second-place finisher, HBO, which had 33). Marriage Story also got almost all of the noms it wanted, save for a supporting actor nom for Alan Alda. Dolemite Is My Name pulled a lead actor nom for Eddie Murphy. And the list goes on. The one big disappointment for the streamer? The crash and burn of my favorite movie of the year The Two Popes, which, after being totally shut out by NBR and NYFCC, was denied Critics' Choice noms for picture, director and lead actor (Jonathan Pryce), and only snagged supporting actor (Anthony Hopkins) and adapted screenplay mentions. I expect the campaign to save that film to go into overdrive in the coming days and weeks.

Apart from The Irishman, the most nominated film was Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which snagged an impressive 12 noms — pretty much the ones you would expect, including 10-year-old phenom Julia Butters for best young actor/actress. Now that Margot Robbie appears to be in a better supporting actress position for Bombshell than for Once Upon a Time, perhaps Sony will make a more concerted push for Butters in that category. She certainly merits one.

Also enjoying banner showings: Little Women, which picked up nine noms, including picture, director (Greta Gerwig), lead actress (Saoirse Ronan), supporting actress (Florence Pugh), adapted screenplay and acting ensemble; Parasite, which snagged seven, including picture, director (Bong Joon Ho), original screenplay (Bong) and ensemble, on top of its assured foreign language film nom; and Uncut Gems, which tallied four, including picture, director (brothers Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie) and actor (Adam Sandler, coming off an NBR win).

And Us star Lupita Nyong'o landed a lead actress nom, continuing her surge from last week, when she was awarded top honors in that category by New York Film Critics Circle and New York Film Critics Online voters.

More mixed messages were sent to several other films. For instance, 1917 landed a formidable eight noms, including picture and director (Sam Mendes), but appears to have been more admired than loved, based on the fact that neither of its two central performers (lead George Mackay and supporting Dean-Charles Chapman) were nominated. Jojo Rabbit clocked in with seven, among them picture, supporting actress (Scarlett Johansson) and adapted screenplay (Taika Waititi) categories; claimed three of the six young actor/actress slots (Thomasin McKenzie and Archie Yates); and also registered a comedy nom — but Waititi was not nominated for either his direction or supporting turn as Hitler.

There were several other films that also did very well but missed one or two key noms: The Farewell is in for lead actress (Awkwafina), supporting actress (Zhao Shuzhen) and original screenplay (Lulu Wang), plus comedy, but not picture; Bombshell is in for lead actress (Charlize Theron) and supporting actress (Robbie), but not picture; Knives Out is in for original screenplay (Rian Johnson), ensemble and comedy, but not picture; Joker is in for picture and lead actor (Joaquin Phoenix), but not director (Todd Phillips); and Ford v Ferrari, following a bruising exclusion from the AFI Awards' top 10 list, is in for picture, but no other above-the-line categories.

And then there are a handful of pics that had undeniably terrible showings. On top of The Two Popes, another of my favorite films of the year took a body blow: Honey Boy got just one nom, best young actor/actress (Noah Jupe), even though Shia LaBeouf had appeared to be a strong contender for supporting actor and original screenplay noms. Midsommar showed up for only best sci-fi or horror movie, even though Pugh had lead actress buzz. And, despite the super-sized categories, a bunch of films got nothing at all, which is pretty devastating — among them, Just Mercy, Richard Jewell, The Report, A Hidden Life, Waves, The Peanut Butter Falcon, Dark Waters and Clemency. I would look for their campaigns to either become very aggressive or shut down entirely over the coming days and weeks.

The 25th Critics' Choice Awards ceremony are set to take place Sunday, Jan. 12.