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Critics Choice Awards: Janelle Monáe, ‘Elvis,’ ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ Among Winners

todayJanuary 16, 2023

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The 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards were handed out on Sunday night, with A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once winning best picture — one of its four prizes of the evening.

Filmmaking duo Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) also won best original screenplay and best director(s) for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Accepting the award for the latter category, in which they beat veterans like James Cameron, Baz Luhrmann and Steven Spielberg. Kwan held up the envelope to show their names to the audience as Scheinert said, “It’s not a mistake!”

Addressing their fellow nominees, Scheinert added, “Thank you to all the storytellers and filmmakers that inspired me to become a filmmaker — you’re in the same category as me. That’s disgusting! Hello?! But you inspired me, and that means a lot. And your movies have changed my life.” Kwan thanked his mother, who he counts as the inspiration for Evelyn Wang, played in the film by Michelle Yeoh. “She was the first person to plant the seed in my head that I could be a director,” said Kwan. “She [is] maybe the first Asian-American immigrant mother to ever tell their son to go to film school.”

Brendan Fraser won best actor for his role in A24’s The Whale. “The Whale is about love. It’s about redemption. It’s about finding the light in a dark place,” said a visibly emotional Fraser. After thanking co-stars Hong Chau, Sadie Sink and Ty Simpkins, Fraser thanked director Darren Aronofsky. “I was in the wilderness, and I probably should have left a trail of breadcrumbs. But you found me and, like all the best directors, you merely just showed me where to go to get to where I needed to be.”

Best actress went to Tár‘s Cate Blanchett. “Best actress … I mean, it is extremely arbitrary considering how many extraordinary performances there have been by women, not only in this room,” said Blanchett, name-dropping Decision to Leave and To Leslie stars Tang Wei and Andrea Riseborough, respectively, neither of whom were nominated for their lead roles. “You don’t stand here unless … [a] director asks you to do something that you think is impossible, and you’re terrified to do,” she added while thanking Todd Field, who wrote and directed the Focus Features drama.

Last year’s best supporting actor winner Troy Kotsur, the first deaf actor to win the prize for his performance in CODA, presented best supporting actress to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Angela Bassett. “I’m proud of the work that we did with Black Panther and now with Wakanda Forever, said Bassett. “We show the world that we could create and lead a billion-dollar box-office success. And my prayer is that that door remains open, and the sky’s the limit for other Black creators and storytellers around the world to join us.”

Ke Huy Quan picked up best supporting actor for his role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, and thanked his “entire EEAAO family” including those who championed the film and “helped audiences remember who I am.”

Kicking off the show, host Chelsea Handler said, “It is an honor to be here hosting tonight after everything that we’ve all been through together over the past few years. Between COVID, Monkeypox, the Don’t Worry Darling press tour, it’s been a lot. I’m just happy to be here tonight supporting the critics’ right to choose.”

She then made quips about the number of LGBTQ films nominated at the ceremony, including “BrosFire Island and Top Gun: Maverick.” She also added a reference to the end of Ellen DeGeneres’ long-running show when joking about Focus Features’ Tár: “In the movie, Cate [Blanchett] portrayed an iconic lesbian whose career is upended by her toxic behavior — and she didn’t even have to host her own daytime talk show.”

RRR was the first surprise of the evening, taking home the award for best international film. The Indian blockbuster is ineligible for this category at the Oscars, as its home country submitted Last Film Show (which also made the Academy’s shortlist ahead of the Jan. 24 Oscar nominations). It is a contender in other categories, however, including best original song “Naatu Naatu,” which also took home that prize at the Critics Choice Awards. Director S.S. Rajamouli thanked “the women in my life” while accepting the award for international film, beginning with his mother. “She thought school education was overrated and she encouraged me to read comics and storybooks, and she encouraged my creativity,” said Rajamouli, who also thanked his wife, costume designer Rama Rajamouli. “More than that, she’s the designer of my life”

Guillermo del Toro won best animated feature for his stop-motion adaptation of Pinocchio for Netflix. “Animation is not a genre for kids,” said del Toro, who dedicated his award to director James Cameron. “It’s a medium to tackle bigger themes.”

Other wins include Women Talking writer-director Sarah Polley for best adapted screenplay, Top Gun: Maverick DP Claudio Miranda for best cinematography, Ruth E. Carter for best costume design for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Women Talking composer Hildur Gudnadóttir for best original score. Best editing went to Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s Paul Rodgers and best production design to Babylon‘s Florencia Martin and Anthony Carlino. Avatar: The Way of Water won best visual effects, while Elvis won for best hair and makeup. Netflix’s Glass Onion won best comedy film and best acting ensemble, and Gabriel LaBelle won best young actor for Universal’s The Fabelmans.

Kate Hudson presented the SeeHer Award to her Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery co-star Janelle Monáe. “There are so many ways to describe Janelle: visionary artist, brilliant musician, inspirational, one-of-a-kind human being,” said Hudson. “I remember the moment we met on Glass Onion. Janelle walked down the staircase in this bright yellow dress, just exuding goddess, regal energy. It was like the seas parted. Everyone’s jaws dropped and the room instantly fell in love. It’s hard not to, but to know her, to see the care and dedication she nurtures in her relationships and in her art, is to really fall in love with her.”

Accepting the honor, Monáe announced that her pronouns are “she, her, they, them” as she recently came out as non-binary. After reflecting on the characters she has played in Glass OnionMoonlight and Hidden Figures, Monáe said, “I’ve tried to make an effort in my work, whether it’s storytelling through music, through film, through TV, through fashion, through literature, to highlight the ones who have been pushed to the margins of society who’ve been outcast or relegated to the other.

“I am non-binary, I am queer, and my identity influences my decisions in my work,” Monáe continued. “I’ve always believed that through storytelling, we are able to shed light on a human experience, an experience that most people around this world won’t get an opportunity to see. And I keep this glimmer of hope in my heart that when someone meets a character, like the ones I’ve had an opportunity to play, you’d be more empathetic to their experience … You want to be more like them. You want to be more kind, less judgmental, and more eager to advocate for them.”

Jeff Bridges received the lifetime achievement award, presented by his The Big Lebowski co-star John Goodman. (Michelle Pfeiffer was initially scheduled to present the honor, but bowed out of the ceremony due to COVID.) Accepting the award, Bridges noted that today is his father Lloyd Bridges’ birthday. “He’s the reason I’m up here,” said Bridges. “He loved showbiz and acting so much, and as a kid I said, ‘Dad, I’m not sure I want to be an actor. I want to do painting, maybe music.’ He said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Being an actor, they’re going to call on you to do all of those things you’re interested in. And besides that, you get to tell all these wonderful stories and from all these different perspectives. … This is a wonderful profession.’ And he was so right. I’m so glad I listened to the old man.”

Speaking backstage in the press room, Bridges reflecting on his return to acting in FX’s drama series The Old Man after being diagnosed with lymphoma in 2020. “What I wanted to say up there — I was sick for two years with cancer [during the pandemic]. And when I talked about my family, [my wife] Susan and my daughters, I wanted to talk about their support during that time. I didn’t think I was gonna make it at all, let alone going back to work. But because they supported me so beautifully, I was able to go back and finish The Old Man. We stopped in the middle of the season. It was very surreal, it was like we had a two-year long weekend, then we came back to work. … Doing that show was so terrific, and I’m so happy that we’re doing other seasons.”

In the television categories, ABC’s Abbott Elementary won best comedy series. Jeremy Allen White won best actor in a comedy series for FX’s The Bear, while Hacks‘ Jean Smart won her second consecutive win for best actress in the HBO Max comedy.

AMC’s Better Call Saul won best drama series, with showrunner Peter Gould joking, “I can’t believe we won. We never win.” (The drama has been nominated for 48 Emmys throughout its six-season run, and has won none.) Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk won best actor in a drama series, while Zendaya won best actress in a drama series for HBO’s Euphoria.

Hulu’s The Dropout won best limited series. “Thank you, Mike White, for not being nominated in this category,” joked showrunner and creator Elizabeth Meriwether. (Season two of anthology series The White Lotus was classified as a drama this year by the Critics Choice Association.) Amanda Seyfried won best actress in a limited series or television movie for her portrayal of Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout, a performance for which she also won a Primetime Emmy in September 2022. She was notably absent at the Golden Globes on Tuesday, for which she also won for The Dropout, as she was in development of a new musical version of Thelma & Louise. Daniel Radcliffe, who did not attend the ceremony, won best actor in a limited series or television movie for his portrayal of “Weird Al” Yankovic in The Roku Channel’s Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.

Niecy Nash-Betts won best supporting actress in a limited series for Netflix’s Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. In an emotional speech, Nash-Betts expressed her long desire to be recognized for her dramatic chops. “When I decided to become an actor, I saw myself doing drama. And the industry was kind, but they said, ‘Stay in your comedy lane,’” said Nash-Betts. “Sometimes people want to leave you when they meet you. I cried to my mother and I said, ‘Mama, don’t you think I’m a good dramatic actress?’ And she said, ‘Girl, I don’t. But you can be.’” Nash-Betts ended her speech with a line that caused the audience to erupt in cheers: “To everybody who doubted this Black woman and told me what I couldn’t do? I want to lovely and humbly say: In your face!”

Paul Walter Hauser won best supporting actor in a limited series for his role in Apple TV+’s Black Bird, for which he also won a Golden Globe on Tuesday. Henry Winkler and Sheryl Lee Ralph won supporting actor and actress in a comedy series, respectively, for HBO’s Barry and ABC’s Abbott Elementary.

Jennifer Coolidge continued her winning streak, taking the award for best actress in a drama for HBO’s The White Lotus. “I know you’ve heard a lot from me in the last month or two, but I just want to say this is such an honor,” she said. In the male companion category, Giancarlo Esposito won for his role in AMC’s Better Call Saul.

Other TV winners include Roku’s Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (best made for television movie), HBO Max’s Harley Quinn (best animated series), Apple TV+’s Pachinko (best foreign language series), Netflix’s Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special (best comedy special), and HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (best talk show).

Read the full list of winners here and see the night’s best-dressed stars here.

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todayJanuary 16, 2023

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