Critics Choice Noms Boost 'Mank' and 'News of the World,' Deal Blows for 'The Father' and 'Judas'

News of the World
Universal Pictures

"Snub" is a highly-debated word each awards season, but I think we can all agree: if you are not nominated even when a category has anywhere from six to 10 slots, as Critics Choice Awards categories do, then — I hate to say it — you got snubbed.

The nominations for the 26th annual Critics Choice Awards, which are to be held on Sunday, March 7, were announced on Monday morning by the Critics Choice Association (of which, full disclosure, I am a longtime member). And, for the aforementioned reason, many contenders were probably pleased, but not exactly shocked, to learn of their nominations.  But many others were undoubtedly wounded to learn of their snubs.

In the best picture category, which has 10 slots — just like already-announced AFI top 10 and the still-to-come Producers Guild noms — most of the ususal suspects made the cut: Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Minari, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, One Night in Miami, Sound of MetalDa 5 Bloods and Mank (which led the field with an impressive 12 noms, most of them in 'below-the-line' categories).

But whereas AFI opted for Judas and the Black Messiah and Soul, those were bounced here by News of the World and Promising Young Woman. And, once again, The Father and Tenet are MIA. There is virtually no overlap between the memberships of the CCA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but, since voters often take their cues from earlier awards groups, these are bad misses.

(Judas was, however, among the six nominees for best ensemble — the other five being the same titles nominated for the corresponding SAG Award, Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey, Minari, One Night in Miami and Trial.)

For a clue about which of the 10 best picture Critics Choice nominees have the strongest support, look at the directing and screenplay categories, the nominees for which were chosen by the same voters (something that is not the case with the Oscars). All seven best director nominees — three of whom are women — directed best pic nominees; the only best pic nominees not up for best director are Ma Rainey, News and Sound of Metal. Also, among the 12 screenplay nominees, six adapted and six original, all best picture nominees are represented except for Da 5 Bloods. (The only films up for screenplay but not picture at Never Rarely Sometimes Always on the original side — not Judas or Soul, notably — are The Father and First Cow on the adapted side.)

The individual acting categories at the Critics Choice Awards bizarrely vary in size, ostensibly due to ties. For instance, both supporting categories have six slots, lead actress has seven and lead actor, in something of an absurdity, has eight.

The eight lead actor nominees are pretty much who you would expect: top-tier contenders Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey), Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) and Anthony Hopkins (The Father); then Da 5 Bloods' Delroy Lindo (rebounding from inexplicable Globe and SAG misses), Mank's Gary Oldman and Minari's Steven Yeun; and then two A-listers who are getting on the board for the first time this season, The Way Back's Ben Affleck and News of the World's Tom Hanks.

Needless to say, this is not great news for a few of the longer shots, like Golden Globe nominees Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian), or Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round), who are running out of places to pick up momentum.

There were some interesting choices among the seven actresses. The slam-dunks were Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman), who have been nominated for everything. Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman) was, expectedly, right up there with them. But then what?

CCA voters gave big boosts to the late-breaking The United States vs. Billie Holiday standout Andra Day, hot on the heels of her Golden Globe nom; Zendaya, the leading lady of Malcolm & Marie, which was another late release and has proven highly divisive (although I can tell you that she was certainly on my ballot); and, perhaps most notable of all, Sidney Flanigan, the 22-year-old newcomer who rocked Never Rarely Sometimes Always en route to the best actress New York Film Critics Circle Award.

Think about who those three up-and-comers beat out: the legendary Sophia Loren, who has a tremendous comeback role in The Life Ahead, but has now missed out on SAG, Globe and Critics Choice noms; Meryl Streep, for either Let Them All Talk or The Prom; surprise SAG nominee Amy Adams of Hillbilly Elegy; French Exit's Golden Globe-nominated Michelle Pfeiffer; and Kate Winslet, star of the divisive Ammonite.

The supporting categories both panned out pretty much according to the odds — at least as the odds existed before the Globe and SAG noms both bestowed unexpected noms on The Little Things' Jared Leto and News of the World's Helena Zengel.

Those two were both absent this time — perhaps, in Leto's case, because The Little Things stands at 48% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Instead, the supporting actor field was filled out by Trial's Cohen, One Night in Miami's Leslie Odom, Jr., Judas' Daniel Kaluuya and On the Rocks' Bill Murray — the other Globe nominees — plus Boseman for Da 5 Bloods (he's the only person to score multiple noms on the film side) and critics' darling Paul Raci for Sound of Metal. At this point, things aren't looking good for Nomadland's David Strathairn; One Night in Miami's other supporting hopeful, Eli Goree; any of the Bloods supporting actors other than Boseman; any of the Trial cast — all of whom are being pushed as supporting players — other than Cohen; or any of the Ma Rainey supporting actors at all.

Supporting actress, meanwhile, remains the most perplexing of the four acting categories this year. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm's Maria Bakalova, Hillbilly Elegy's Glenn Close and The Father's Olivia Colman — all of whose performances received Globe and SAG noms, but none of whom seem like obvious Oscar winners — were again nominated here. So, too, were Globe nominee Amanda Seyfried (Mank) and SAG nominee Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari). And veteran Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman) rounded out the category, chosen over not only Zengel — which is weird given that voters liked News enough to nominate it for best picture — but also Globe nominee Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian) and Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal).

I am pleased to report that 12-year-old Zengel was nominated for best young actor/actress — a category limited to talent under the age of 21 — and will compete for that prize against, among others, Never Rarely Sometimes Always' criminally under-recognized Talia Ryder, who is 18 and every bit as good in the film as Flanigan; and Minari's adorably mischievous grandson Alan Kim, who is seven.

The best foreign language film category is comprised of the same five titles as the corresponding Globes category — Minari (one of its formidable 10 noms, second only to Mank), Another Round, La Llorona, The Life Ahead and Two of Us — plus Collective, a wonderful film that wasn't eligible at the Globes because it is a documentary.

Another RoundCollective, La Llorona and Two of Us might well be shortlisted for the corresponding Oscar when finalists are announced on Tuesday — they were the submissions of Denmark, Romania, Guatemala and France, respectively. Minari and The Life Ahead, however, will not be — neither was submitted for the prize, the former because it's essentially a Korean-language American production and the latter because Italy opted to submit Notturno instead.

Which brings us to the music awards, original song and original score.

Four of the song nominees are repeats from the Globe noms: Judas' "Fight for You" by H.E.R., who performed "America the Beautiful" at Sunday's Super Bowl; The Life Ahead's "Io Si," via perennial contender Diane Warren; "Speak Now," which Odom performs over the end-credits of One Night in Miami; and "Tigress & Tweed," which Day performs in Billie Holiday. The other two nominees are "Husavik," which is the marquee number in the Will Ferrell comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, and "Everybody Cries," a deeply personal song about loss that was written by The Outpost's director Rod Lurie with Rita Wilson and Larry Groupe. They beat out Globe nominee "Hear My Voice" from Trial.

All five Globe-nominated scores were nominated again on Monday — Alexandre Desplat's for The Midnight Sky; Ludwig Goransson's for Tenet; James Newton Howard's for News; and two by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Mank and Soul. The sixth? Emile Mosseri's for Minari.