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24th Annual Critics' Choice Awards preview

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Critics' Choice Awards (Photo: Critics' Choice Awards)

The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is an eclectic mix of film critics from across North America. We're a diverse melting pot of tastes brought together by a love of cinema. We're not all beguiled by the same films; we're known to disagree with each other. Tonight, Sunday, January 13, the CW will televise the BFCA's Critics' Choice Awards. I've cast my votes, all I can do is brace myself for the inevitable surprises and disappointments.

The night might see a landslide winner as polarizing titles like "Green Book" or "A Star is Born" have passionate followings. I don't think that it will happen, "The Favourite" or "Roma" would be a stronger bet. Personally, I voted for a variety of movies and hope to see a wide range of films honored throughout the night.

Here's a look at the nominees for the 24th Annual Critics' Choice Awards.

BEST PICTURE

Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
The Favourite
First Man
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

Of the ten nominees, only "BlacKkKlansman," "First Man," "If Beale Street Could Talk," and "Roma" were featured in my end-of-year lists. "Roma" is my favorite, but it will likely win for Best Foreign Language. This race is wide open.

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale – Vice
Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate
Ryan Gosling – First Man
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen – Green Book

For me, Ethan Hawke's performance stands above the rest, but underestimating the influencing power of the Golden Globes would be a mistake. I suspect that this will be a Christian Bale and Rami Malek showdown.

BEST ACTRESS

Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns
Glenn Close – The Wife
Toni Collette – Hereditary
Olivia Colman – The Favourite
Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Glenn Close's win at the Golden Globes was a surprise. Not because the award isn't deserved, but because "The Wife" was largely overlooked. Toni Collette is my pick, but Olivia Colman seems a more likely choice.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mahershala Ali – Green
Timothée Chalamet – Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther

It's hard to read how the majority of my colleagues felt about "Green Book." I suspect that Mahershala Ali has an incredible chance of duplicating his Golden Globe win. A month ago I would have expected Richard E. Grant to win. I'd go with Adam Driver, but you won't see me complaining if the award goes to Michael B. Jordan.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams – Vice
Claire Foy – First Man
Nicole Kidman – Boy Erased
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone – The Favourite
Rachel Weisz – The Favourite

Claire Foy's performance in "First Man" is incredible. The film simply wouldn't work without her. Nonetheless, my pick would be Regina King.

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Thomasin McKenzie – Leave No Trace
Ed Oxenbould – Wildlife
Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place
Amandla Stenberg – The Hate U Give
Sunny Suljic – Mid90s

It was a strong year for young people , any of the six nominees is deserving (but where is Milly Shapiro for "Hereditary?"). My pick is Elsie Fisher. "Eighth Grade" is a special movie and she's simply fantastic in it.

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

Black Panther
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Vice
Widows

While I wasn't as in love with "The Favourite" as I would have liked, the cast is unquestionably great. I'm happy to see "Widows" included, Elizabeth Debicki absolutely slays as Alice. Still, the "Crazy Rich Asian" combination of Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh and Awkwafina is pretty impressive.

BEST DIRECTOR

Damien Chazelle – First Man
Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Peter Farrelly – Green Book
Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay – Vice

I'd take Damien Chazelle or Alfonso Cuarón with Spike Lee getting a serious amount of attention. Others, however, would put Yorgos Lanthimos into the conversation. Cuarón has the edge here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Bo Burnham – Eighth Grade
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara – The Favourite
Adam McKay – Vice
Paul Schrader – First Reformed
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly – Green Book
Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski – A Quiet Place

It's incredibly difficult to overlook Paul Schrader's fantastic script for "First Reformed." Then again, "Eighth Grade" is one of the smartest coming-of-age dramas ever made. Did I happen to mention that I love "Roma?"

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole – Black Panther
Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk
Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters – A Star Is Born
Josh Singer – First Man
Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman

"If Beale Street Could Talk," "First Man" and "BlacKkKlansman" are a cut above the rest (in most categories I would have preferred "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" be included before "Black Panther"). Do we take away points from Barry Jenkins because the source material for "If Beale Street Could Talk" was strong to begin with? No, I think not.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
James Laxton – If Beale Street Could Talk
Matthew Libatique – A Star Is Born
Rachel Morrison – Black Panther
Robbie Ryan – The Favourite
Linus Sandgren – First Man

Alfonso Cuarón was somehow able to make a warm and inviting film without the use of color. The opposite side of the coin is James Laxton's cinematography for "If Beale Street Could Talk," film robust with color. Then again, Linus Sandgren's work on "First Man" helped to make going into outer space dangerous and thrilling again.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Hannah Beachler, Jay Hart – Black Panther
Eugenio Caballero, Barbara Enriquez – Roma
Nelson Coates, Andrew Baseman – Crazy Rich Asians
Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton – The Favourite
Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas – First Man
John Myhre, Gordon Sim – Mary Poppins Returns

If "Roma" is on a roll, it might win here as well, but I suspect that this will be a category that gives some love to the likes of "Crazy Rich Asians"or "Black Panther."

BEST EDITING

Jay Cassidy – A Star Is Born
Hank Corwin – Vice
Tom Cross – First Man
Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough – Roma
Yorgos Mavropsaridis – The Favourite
Joe Walker – Widows

I'd give this to "First Man" for the beauty and intensity of the liftoff sequences alone.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Alexandra Byrne – Mary Queen of Scots
Ruth Carter – Black Panther
Julian Day – Bohemian Rhapsody
Sandy Powell – The Favourite
Sandy Powell – Mary Poppins Returns

I can see "Bohemian Rhapsody" winning here, but it is Sandy Powell's nominations for "The Favourite" and "Mary Poppins Returns" that is the most interesting. The two films are both beautifully dressed, but share little in common when it comes to color and texture.

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Mary Queen of Scots
Suspiria
Vice

If the makeup and hair artists are doing their job, you'll never notice that they were there. You could argue for any of these as being among the best, but I'm inclined to go with either "Black Panther," "Suspiria" or "Mary Queen of Scots" because they were allowed to stray a bit from the beaten path.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Ready Player One

I find it difficult to compare the special effects work in "Ready Player One" to "Mission: Impossible - Fallout." One is grounded and the other tethered to a sense of realism. Both are effective. "First Man" was one of the most thrilling cinematic experiences of the year; it gets my vote.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Grinch
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I expected "Isle of Dogs" to finish the year atop my list of animated films, but the arrival of "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" change everything. All the attention might be on "Black Panther," but it is Spider-Man who feels the most worthy of a trophy collection.

BEST ACTION MOVIE

Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Deadpool 2
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Ready Player One
Widows

Of the choices given, I'd side with "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" because of its use of practical effects. That said, there's nothing on this list that I didn't enjoy. Maybe this one goes to "Black Panther."

BEST COMEDY

Crazy Rich Asians
Deadpool 2
The Death of Stalin
The Favourite
Game Night
Sorry to Bother You

No one saw "The Death of Stalin," which is a shame because it was a fantastic and funny film. "The Favourite" feels out of place.

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

Christian Bale – Vice
Jason Bateman – Game Night
Viggo Mortensen – Green Book
John C. Reilly – Stan & Ollie
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool 2
Lakeith Stanfield – Sorry to Bother You

Of the names on this list, I enjoyed Lakeith Stanfield's performance in the surreal comedy "Sorry to Bother You." He's just grounded enough to allow the absurdity to work. A little surprised by all the love for "Game Night." Maybe I need to revisit it.

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns
Olivia Colman – The Favourite
Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Rachel McAdams – Game Night
Charlize Theron – Tully
Constance Wu – Crazy Rich Asians

"Tully" was underrated, but I don't see Charlize Theron winning tonight. I could see Emily Blunt winning here, unless Olivia Colman doesn't get Best Actress.

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE

Annihilation
Halloween
Hereditary
A Quiet Place
Suspiria

It was a great year for sci-fi and horror films and that's represented fairly well in these nominees. I'd put "Annihilation" first and "Halloween" last with the others somewhere in between.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Burning
Capernaum
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters

Likely to be "Roma," but all five of the nominees should be seen by anyone and everyone. "Burning" is particularly strong.

BEST SONG

All the Stars – Black Panther
Girl in the Movies – Dumplin’
I’ll Fight – RBG
The Place Where Lost Things Go – Mary Poppins Returns
Shallow – A Star Is Born
Trip a Little Light Fantastic – Mary Poppins Returns

"A Place Called Slaughter Race" from "Ralph Breaks the Internet" was my choice. Clearly it didn't make the cut. I was underwhelmed by the music in "Mary Poppins Returns" and impressed by the songs in "A Star is Born." It will probably be one of the two.

BEST SCORE

Kris Bowers – Green Book
Nicholas Britell – If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat – Isle of Dogs
Ludwig Göransson – Black Panther
Justin Hurwitz – First Man
Marc Shaiman – Mary Poppins Returns

We're comparing apples and oranges here. I'd give it to either "If Beale Street Could Talk" or "First Man." My vote really goes to "Annihilation.," but apparently no one else was nearly as enamored with it as I was.