<p>Tony&nbsp;Kushner reads his acceptance speech for writing &quot;Lincoln&quot;...during a commercial break.</p>

Tony Kushner reads his acceptance speech for writing "Lincoln"...during a commercial break.

Credit: HitFix

The critics choose embarrassment

A lot of bad decisions have the BFCA pointing in the wrong direction

I apologized to Broadcast Film Critics Association president Joey Berlin after this evening's Critics' Choice Movie Awards for being frank about it, but I couldn't tell a lie: this year's show was an embarrassment. Appalling, I'd go so far to say.

Why? You've got Tony Kushner on stage during a commercial break, that's why. You've got Rich Moore talking over the crowd during another one upon accepting his Best Animated Film prize, that's why. You've deteriorated into the People's Choice Awards with added air time for Jennifer Lawrence to make some more "Hunger Games" remarks and Judd Apatow padding a show that could have dealt a little more courtesy to the winners of the evening.

So if Kushner can't have air time, I'll give him a little in that snap shot to the left. It was just disgraceful, to reduce the screenplay categories to the sidelines like that. The crafts categories, added a few years back, have always been dished out on the red carpet and announced as a bumper to commercial break, but it's just wrong. I was sitting next to "Life of Pi" cinematographer Claudio Miranda. He joked that his win was the best kind because he didn't have to get up and make a speech. Nevertheless, it's a level of disrespect that I don't find in keeping with the BFCA's stated purpose.

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<p>Ben Affleck at the 18th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards</p>

Ben Affleck at the 18th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

'Argo' takes top honors at BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Acting wins for Day-Lewis, Chastain, Hoffman and Hathaway

It's been a day of bittersweet fortunes for "Argo." This morning, the popular political thriller's hopes of winning the Best Picture Oscar were cut down to size when Ben Affleck shockingly failed to make the Best Director lineup. Hours later, however, Affleck was the golden boy once more at the Broadcast Film Critics' Association's Critics' Choice Awards, as he won both the Best Picture and Best Director trophies --elbowing out "Lincoln," which had led the field with 13 nominations. If not for this morning's bombshell, Affleck would likely now be in the driver's seat for the Oscar. It's a weird season, this.

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<p>Suraj Sharma in &quot;Life of&nbsp;Pi&quot;</p>

Suraj Sharma in "Life of Pi"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Tech Support: 'Life of Pi' and 'Lincoln' lead the crafts category nominations

It was very clear who dominated throughout the branches this morning

And they’re here. Another year come and another set of nominees in the Academy’s crafts categories, highlighting the invaluable contributions to our movies by behind-the-lines, "below the line" artists.

While most Oscar-watchers are still picking their jaws up off the floor after what happened in the Best Director category, several have also noticed the over-performing of “Life of Pi” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” In the case of “Pi,” that led to its leading the way among the crafts category contenders, with 8 nominations. “Lincoln” landed in second place with six nods.

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<p>Helen Hunt in &quot;The Sessions.&quot;</p>

Helen Hunt in "The Sessions."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Academy regains its Sundance connection

After last year's meager showing, today's nods again prove the indie fest's power

Though it's long been a prime scouting-ground for future documentary nominees, the Sundance Film Festival has, in recent years, hatched a growing number of Oscar contenders in the bigger-ticket categories.

"Little Miss Sunshine," "Precious," "An Education," "The Kids Are All Right," "Winter's Bone" -- all of them bowed big at the January fest, and then managed the significant feat of sustaining buzz for an entire year before securing Oscar nominations for Best Picture. Ditto such acting and screenwriting nominees as "Frozen River," "The Savages," "The Messenger" and "Animal Kingdom." The Sundance-to-Oscar stretch is one of the longest roads in the campaigning game, and those who survive it deserve a lot of credit: as a small-scale indie, it's hard enough to get attention even with a fall debut, but counting on the length of voters' memories and the strength of word of mouth is a dicey strategy.

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<p>Quvenzhané Wallis and Benh Zeitlin, Oscar nominees for &quot;Beasts of the&nbsp;Southern Wild&quot;</p>

Quvenzhané Wallis and Benh Zeitlin, Oscar nominees for "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar brings surprises aplenty as frontrunners miss and fairytales come true

The 85th annual nominations packed an intriguing punch

Well, then. That was a cold blast of water to the faces of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow this morning. The directors of "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty" respectively failed to be nominated for their films, each of which were frontrunners for a potential win in the Best Picture race leading into today's announcement and assumed nominees for their work on the CIA thrillers. But without a Best Director nod, it's generally a little tough to take the big prize, and so, the biggest shock of the day is their failure to get in.

They each yielded to perhaps the most surprising nominee of the day, Benh Zeitlin, director of "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Talk about a big, beautiful success story. Sundance is gearing up for another run in just one week and to see this film last a whole year (it debuted at Sundance 2012 where it was picked up by Fox Searchlight) and particularly see this strong a showing (Quvenzhané Wallis was also nominated in the lead actress category, the youngest actress ever to have the honor) is just lovely. Congrats to all involved.

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<p>With 11 nods, &quot;Life of Pi&quot; is far from at sea in the Oscar race.</p>

With 11 nods, "Life of Pi" is far from at sea in the Oscar race.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Lincoln' leads, 'Pi' and 'Silver Linings' surge as the Academy serves up a few surprises

Three DGA nominees miss the cut for Best Director

When the Academy announced it was moving up the announcement of its nominees to an unprecedently early date, we knew the ensuing precursor scramble could result in a few surprises. We just didn't know quite how many. With this morning's nominations, they may have played by the book in some respects -- pretty much everyone saw that field-leading haul of nods for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" coming -- but in many others, they were on excitingly independent-minded form, freed from the lockstep of Guild thinking.

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<p>The Face of Heroism, AKA Jennifer Lawrence, in &quot;The Hunger Games.&quot;</p>

The Face of Heroism, AKA Jennifer Lawrence, in "The Hunger Games."

Credit: Lionsgate

Roundup: The people love 'The Hunger Games'... and 'Perks'

Also: 'Django' action figure controversy, and R.I.P. David R. Ellis

While the ever-growing club of "Perks of Being a Wallflower" fans are crossing their fingers for a screenplay Oscar nod in the next hour or so, the film's word-of-mouth success was rewarded last night with a People's Choice Award win for Best Dramatic Movie (and Best Dramatic Actress for Emma Watson). It's easy to mock these awards, but it's nice to see actual evidence that this little film has connected with audiences out in the real world. More predictably, "The Hunger Games" took the top award, while Jennifer Lawrence took two prizes, for Best Actress and Face of Heroism -- it's safe to say "Silver Linings Playbook" didn't factor into either of these. Other film category winners include "Ted," Chris Hemsworth, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Aniston -- hey, these awards aren't so bad. [Yahoo!

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<p>Bubble contender Emmanuelle Riva with Daniel&nbsp;Day-Lewis at Monday night's New York&nbsp;Film&nbsp;Critics Circle awards ceremony</p>

Bubble contender Emmanuelle Riva with Daniel Day-Lewis at Monday night's New York Film Critics Circle awards ceremony

Credit: AP Photo/Starpix, Dave Allocca

11th hour thoughts on the eve of the nominations

See you bright and early tomorrow

Okay, so I went back and fiddled with some things this morning before getting on my flight to LA. It's all reflected there and in this afternoon's big gallery story presenting my final predictions along with Greg Ellwood's and Guy Lodge's.

I love how zany this year is. So much that we "know" about an awards season can just be thrown out the window. But of course, there will always be those who claim to have "the knowledge." Don't let 'em fool you.

I have a few wishes, if I might toss them out there. I'd like to see "The Grey " show up. Anywhere. Doesn't matter the category. Any hint that it was seen and loved, that would be great, thanks. (Fat chance, I know.)

I would like to see the actors do the right thing by Emmanuelle Riva. It's the year's best performance, a brave portrayal in the actress's twilight years. And frankly, I'd love to see Jean-Louis Trintignant right there beside her. Indeed, Trintignant and Samuel L. Jackson are my left-field hopefuls that have a fair enough chance to surprise.

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<p>&quot;5 Broken&nbsp;Cameras&quot;</p>

"5 Broken Cameras"

Credit: Kino Lorber

'5 Broken Cameras,' 'Detropia' pick up top prizes at Cinema Eye Honors

A great year of docs well-represented throughout

As I wrote last weekend when I broke down this year's Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature, I really wish I had caught up with "5 Broken Cameras" earlier in the season. It is quite simply one of the most astonishing pieces of work I've seen all year and could easily have figured on my top 10 list (where "The Queen of Versailles" was already featured -- it's been such a great year for the form).

I was happy, then, to see the news that the film took the top prize at tonight's Cinema Eye Honors. Such a bold and respectable call in a year that sees "Searching for Sugar Man" virtually dominating the scene (and likely to win the Oscar, too). I still feel good about the film's chances for a nod; after this win (not that this is an overly predictive), it's clear it has support.

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<p>Kaya Scodelario in &quot;Wuthering Heights.&quot;</p>

Kaya Scodelario in "Wuthering Heights."

Credit: Oscilloscope Pictures

The Long Shot: A salute to the non-contenders

Featuring my ideal-world Oscar ballot

Right, 'tis the night before Oscar Nomination Day, and plenty of creatures are still stirring. Many pundits are still feverishly tweaking their prediction lists, cross-referencing precursor lists and previous years' editions for clues, but like my HitFix colleagues, I've let mine go. These, for better or (probably) worse, are my final guesses -- some pragmatic, some playful -- and I don't much feel like shuffling them any further.

Nor, really, do I feel like talking about them much further. I could use this column to explain the method (minimal) behind my eight-nominee Best Picture lineup or the madness (maximal) behind predicting a Best Original Song nod for "The Sambola!," but any such rationalizations reach their sell-by date in just a few hours' time. I could look ahead to the next stage of the race, and the contenders likeliest to win it, but thanks to the Academy's reconfigured calendar, we still have over six weeks left in which to exhaust that topic. (Thank heavens we have some festivals in the interim to break up the conversation.)

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