The 23rd Annual Critics Choice Awards, which took place a few days ago, was the 6th I’ve attended. Each ceremony has had a slightly different feel to it. This year, though it seemed like there were more attendees at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, CA than ever before, I felt the most relaxed I’ve ever been. Everyone was in a really good mood.
Gorgeous day. A little breeze in the air. Bright blue carpet. Pre-show festivities began at 2pm Pacific Time as the stars of TV & Movies arrived. The first person I met was Marcus Lemonis, from CNBC’s hit series “The Profit”. He told me that “we film the show 270 days of the year” and that he’s worked on as many as 9 episodes simultaneously.
Also during the cocktail hour (which was really 2 hours), I met Mckenna Grace, the young star of “Gifted”, “I, Tonya” and “Designated Survivor” – the ABC Kiefer Sutherland White House drama I’ve watched/binged since it began in Sept. 2016. She was thrilled that I watch the show, gave me a hug and said, “Next time I’m on set, I’ll tell Kiefer you said Hi.”
Best Original Screenplay winner Jordan Peele was amazed that the “Get Out” phenomenon has now lasted almost an entire year. Emma Roberts may have been the nicest person I met all night. We talked about “Nancy Drew”, and she really admired my suit.
At 4pm, inside the Hangar, the Critics Choice team was getting ready to stream the first hour, in which at least 15 awards from film and TV were handed out, including Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (both of which went to “Coco”).
At my table was Best Young Actor/Actress winner Brooklynn Prince, from “The Florida Project” and her parents. They were all overwhelmed when she won and enjoyed the rest of the evening. Brooklynn hung out with “Wonder”’s Jacob Tremblay, who was at the next table over, during commercial breaks and at the after party.
The last award in that streaming-only first hour was for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy, which went to James Franco for “The Disaster Artist”. He was not there. Of course, everyone in the room knew that just hours earlier, an LA Times expose revealed that five women accused Franco of inappropriate behavior. So you could say that moment was… awkward.
Just before The CW broadcast began at 5, I met Allison Janney, who would win Best Supporting Actress for “I, Tonya” a little while later. She and I agreed that “I, Tonya” is the best movie experience of 2017: “The costumes and everything – I know I’m in it, but I absolutely love it.” And as for when her character, LaVona Harding, says “Well, my storyline’s really disappearing”: “That’s my favorite line.”
The sweet Hong Chau (“Downsizing”) sat at Tremblay’s table. When we shook hands, she said, “Your hands are so soft!” Elizabeth Moss was at another close table and won Best Actress in a Drama Series for “The Handmaid’s Tale”. She really liked doing a recent “Sunday Today” profile because it was, like the evening, “so relaxing”.
“SNL”’s Jay Pharoah helped host Olivia Munn during a bit at the top of the show. Afterwards, Pharoah came over and was pleased with the drink he had, “At least they didn’t give me that Bulls*it coconut water!”
I congratulated Michael Stuhlbarg on “The Post” (my No. 1 movie of 2017), “Call Me by Your Name” (which won Best Adapted Screenplay) and Best Picture winner “The Shape of Water”, to which he said, “It’s been a great year”. Best Presenter of the night, “The Big Sick”’s Kumail Nanjiani, was also enthusiastic over his Best Comedy win, “We thought we were gonna win other categories, but this is great!”
Angelina Jolie was very kind. We talked about the animated film she has executive produced, “The Breadwinner”, saying that director Nora Twomey (who I interviewed in-person the day before) “is a special lady”. Greta Gerwig seemed overwhelmed with all the “Lady Bird” love (though the film didn’t end-up winning anything at Critics Choice despite 8 nominations).
I talked with Gary Oldman about the subway car scene in “Darkest Hour” just before he won Best Actor. And I thanked him for sending all Broadcast Film Critics Association members a photo his wife took of him on set. He told me it was a way to “share the love” of the movie.
During one commercial break, “Call Me by Your Name” stars Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer were chatting. I met them both at the same time, and after telling Hammer my name, I thanked him for voicing Jackson Storm in “Cars 3”. His response, “Happy to do it!” Hammer’s wife, Elizabeth Chambers, is a frequent judge on “Cupcake Wars” and couldn’t believe that I’m addicted to the show. She has recently filmed new episodes.
Anthony Anderson had a good time presenting with Rachel Bloom from The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”. I said hi and congratulated Best Actress in a Comedy winner Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”) and Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain (“Molly’s Game”). Rachel Brosnahan, star of Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, said production on Season 2 begins in just a few weeks.
Ewan McGregor is looking forward to everyone seeing Disney’s live-action “Christopher Robin” film, out in August. And “The Greatest Showman”’s Keala Settle, who sings “This is Me”, has loved all the attention the film has received and has nothing but the best to say about co-star Hugh Jackman.
I’ll end with a taste of my conversation with iconic composer Hans Zimmer. He told me he “got bullied into doing ‘Blade Runner 2049’”. I told him that I watched the original “BR” for the first time just before seeing the sequel. He was stunned and said that when he saw “Blade Runner” for the first time, he thought it was, “F*cking Amazing!”