The 29th annual Critics Choice Awards took place in Santa Monica on Sunday night, and the big winners of the night were Oppenheimer, The Holdovers, Barbie, Succession, Beef and The Bear.
Chelsea Handler, who hosted for the second year in a row, began her opening monologue by calling herself “microdose Barbie,” and made a dig at studio executives who were “forced to vacation” for six months due to the writers and actors strikes. She also honored the huge year we just had for women.
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“Women were victorious in all venues,” Handler said. “Barbie at the box office, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé with their tours, Gwyneth Paltrow and her ski trial. Women show up and dominate our culture. You could almost say it was the year of women…. Women could say that. Bill Maher would say, ‘Is she still talking?'”
She then panned over to Oprah Winfrey, who was there to support the film she produced, The Color Purple. “Oprah, I have no words to describe you,” Handler said. Then, Handler talked about some of the “horniest” movies and TV shows of the year: Ali Wong in Beef, Cillian Murphy being horny for uranium, and 2023 being the year “everyone became horny for Pedro Pascal.” She also, of course, honored Barry Keoghan’s penis for its performance in Saltburn. Handler also made a jab at last week’s Golden Globes host Jo Koy (with whom she was previously in a relationship).
“Unfortunately, Martin Scorsese isn’t here tonight, but that’s not gonna stop me from letting everyone in this room know that I would toss him around like a little Italian meatball,” she said after a series of jokes noting that she was attracted to older men. “Thank you for laughing at that. My writers wrote it.” That was a direct dig at something Koy said during his monologue that didn’t generate as many laughs as he had hoped.
Oppenheimer won best picture, as well as best ensemble, best supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr.) and best director (Christopher Nolan). Nolan credited Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin for their book American Prometheus, on which Nolan based much of Oppenheimer. Emily Blunt accepted the ensemble award on the behalf of her “Oppenhomies,” and singled out Cillian Murphy’s performance as J. Robert Oppenheimer in the film. During Downey Jr.’s speech, he took a moment to honor critics that in the past have called his work “sloppy, messy and lazy,” “like Peewee Herman emerging from a coma,” “a puzzling waste of talent,” and “amusing as a bed-locked fart.” Downey Jr. won the same award at the Golden Globes last weekend. Oppenheimer also won best cinematography, best editing, best visual effects and best score.
Barbie also won several awards, most notably best comedy, which was announced during a commercial break and didn’t allow the filmmakers to come on stage. Handler, later on in the show, rectified that and welcomed star and producer Margot Robbie and writer and director Greta Gerwig to the stage.
“This was not part of the show, but we are very grateful,” Robbie said before handing the mic to Gerwig, who thanked her co-writer and partner Noah Baumbach because they wanted to make each other laugh and they then “made the world laugh.” The film also won best song, which was awarded to “I’m Just Ken.” Songwriters Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt as well as Ryan Gosling, who performed the song, accepted the award. Ronson thanked Gerwig for creating space for an 11-minute power ballad that let men cry in the film as well. Barbie also received best original screenplay, best production design, best costume design, and best hair and makeup.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph won the best supporting actress award for her performance in The Holdovers. Randolph has been sweeping pretty much every awards show so far, including last weekend’s Golden Globes. Similarly, Paul Giamatti won the best actor award for the film after winning last weekend’s Globe in the same category. During his acceptance speech, he said he didn’t think his week could get any better since his trip to In-N-Out after the Globes went viral on social media. He then joked about attendees getting their “pizza in a bag,” which was presumably the meal served at the awards show. Dominic Sessa won best young actor.
Succession took home awards for best drama series, best actor in a drama series (Kieran Culkin) and best actress in a drama series (Sarah Snook), while Elizabeth Debicki won best supporting actress in a drama series for her role in The Crown, and Billy Crudup won the corresponding award for his performance in The Morning Show.
The Bear won best comedy series, and actors Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edebiri and Ebon Moss-Bachrach all took home acting prizes. Beef also was a big winner of the night, winning best limited series, best actor in a limited series (Steven Yeun), best actress in a limited series (Ali Wong) and best supporting actress in a limited series (Maria Bello).
Jonathan Bailey won the best supporting actor in a limited series award for Fellow Travelers. Bailey, during his acceptance speech, told the audience that this show is a “reminder that LGBTQ+ people have always existed, and have been fighting for an easier life, so I thank people who have come before me” so that he could stand up there to win an award for playing a character that represents the community. Meryl Streep (Only Murders in the Building) won best supporting actress in a comedy series, but she was not there to accept the award.
Emma Stone won the best actress award and she said she didn’t have a speech prepared, but told the audience that she was able to “unlearn” a lot of things to play her Poor Things character Bella Baxter. While she thanked the critics for this award, she also is learning how to not care what they think, she said with a laugh.
The SeeHer Award, which honors the accurate portrayal of women and girls in media, was presented this year to America Ferrera by her Barbie co-star Robbie, who said Ferrera is never “scared to speak the truth.” Ferrera of course made waves for her monologue in the film in which she talks about how impossible it is to be a woman in today’s society. Ferrera then took the stage and called the award “meaningful” as she grew up yearning to see people on screen that looked like her.
“I grew up as a first-generation Honduran American girl in love with TV, film and theater, who desperately wanted to be a part of a storytelling legacy that I could not see myself reflected in,” she said. “Of course I could feel myself in characters who were strong and complex, but these characters rarely, if ever, looked like me. I yearned to see people like myself on screen, as full humans.”
To her, it seemed impossible to see “fully dimensional Latina characters” on screen, but credited writers and fellow actors who have changed that since, to see “characters that I could not have seen growing up, but I see her now.”
“We are all worthy of having our lives richly and authentically reflected,” Ferrera said to a standing ovation. The camera panned to Taraji P. Henson, who pointed to her arm tattoo that reads “The Truth.” Ferrera also credited Gerwig for proving that “women’s stories have no difficulty achieving cinematic greatness and box office history at the same time.”
Harrison Ford received the career achievement award and was introduced by his Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny director James Mangold. Calling him a hypergiant, the filmmaker spoke about Ford’s decades-long career and the actor’s talent. An emotional Ford took the stage to accept the award, and credited luck and the work of wonderful filmmakers for his career.
You can see the full Critics Choice winners list here.
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