Critics' Choice Awards: 'Argo' Wins Best Picture, Ben Affleck Captures Best Director

Brent Lang
The Wrap
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Critics' Choice Awards: 'Argo' Wins Best Picture, Ben Affleck Captures Best Director

Thursday began as a difficult one for the team behind "Argo," after Ben Affleck, the director of the political thriller was left off the list of Oscar nominees for Best Director. It ended in triumph, however, with "Argo" capturing the Best Picture Critics' Choice Movie Award in a field of heavyweights that included "Life of Pi," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Lincoln."

There was also an opportunity to right apparent snubs from the Oscar nomination announcements, as Affleck bounded up to the stage to accept the Best Director honor for his work guiding "Argo." The actor-director and "Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow were considered to be locks for Academy Award nominations, but found themselves edged out.

"I would like to thank the Academy," Affleck began, to knowing laughter from the audience. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding, this is the one that counts."

"Argo's" success came at the expense of "Lincoln," which has been considered the awards front-runner and scored a leading 12 Oscar nominations earlier in the day. The biopic about the 16th president wasn't entirely shut out. It earned awards for its adapted screenplay, score and a Best Actor prize for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance in the title role.

"Each and every day was filled with discovery and the joy of discovery...all of us were led by the fearless sherpas Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg," Day-Lewis said, thanking the film's screenwriter and director.

Showing signs of strength was "Silver Linings Playbook," which earned four trophies including one for Best Comedy, Best Actor in a Comedy for Bradley Cooper and Best Actress in a Comedy for Jennifer Lawrence. The off-beat comedy astounded many by picking up 8 Oscar nominations, including nods in all four acting categories. Its showing at the Critics' Choice confirmed its status as a top rival to current front-runners "Lincoln" and "Life of Pi."

Accepting the award for Best Comedy, director David O. Russell said he was inspired to make the story of a bipolar man falling in love with a depressed woman by his son's own struggles.

"I made it to give him son taught me about myself," Russell said.

Lawrence received multiple awards during the ceremony. In addition to her award as best comedy actress for "Silver Linings Playbook," she was part of the award-winning ensemble from that same movie. Lawrence was also recognized as Best Actress in an Action Movie for her performance in the blockbuster "The Hunger Games."

She lost out on the Best Actress prize, though. That award went to Jessica Chastain for her role as a driven CIA analyst in "Zero Dark Thirty."

Chastain took her opportunity on the stage to praise Bigelow, noting "In my moments of deepest doubt you lifted me up... you're an inspiration to me in all ways,"

The supporting actor awards were split between Anne Hathaway for her gut-wrenching work as an impoverished mother in "Les Misérables" and Philip Seymour Hoffman for his role as a cult leader in "The Master."

Nine-year-old "Beasts of the Southern Wild" actress Quvenzhne Wallis won the award for best young actor or actress. Her first-time director, Benh Zeitlin, spent the night receiving congratulations for his film's unexpectedly strong showing in Oscar nominations, and for the shocking Best Director nomination he received from the Academy.

During one commercial break, producer Kathleen Kennedy took a dazed-looking Zeitlin to meet, in quick succession, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Founded in 1995, the Broadcast Film Critics Association is the largest critics group in the United States, comprising roughly 270 television, radio and internet critics and journalists. The Critics' Choice Movie Awards tend to be one of the more reliable Oscar predictors, with nine of its Best Picture winners in the last 12 years going on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

This is the first time the movie awards have been held after Oscar nominations have been announced. When the Academy moved up the date of its nominations announcement this year, it created the awkward spectacle of having Critics' Choice Movie Awards nominees who'd been overlooked by the Oscars a few hours earlier showing up and trying not to look disappointed.

The categories for the critics' group are often unorthodox, particularly after the telecast's move this year from VH1 to the CW. With the move, a group that had once modeled its categories after the Oscars instituted a variety of new, presumably audience-friendly categories, including separate acting awards for action movies and comedies, plus one award for Best Action Movie and another for Best Science-Fiction/Horror Movie.

The plethora of new categories, combined with the television broadcast's two-hour running time, led to the thoroughly disconcerting sight of a group of critics handing out screenwriting awards to Tony Kushner and Quentin Tarantino during a commercial break, in order to fit the presumably more audience-friendly action-flick honors on the air.

In place of a high profile comedian like Seth MacFarlane or Tina Fey, the show was emceed by  KTLA entertainment reporter Sam Rubin.

As a demonstration of the evening's looseness, Hathaway noted that her name had been misspelled "Ann" on the screen before she came onstage.

"I don't mean to be gauche," she said after noting the error.

Some winners poked fun at the ceremony's venue, the cavernous Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.

"Thanks for this lovely honor in this lovely airplane hangar," Kushner said as he accepted an award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on "Lincoln."

Day-Lewis later suggested they hand out the final award in the porta-potties, or in his parlance "porta-cabins."

For a night, at least, any iciness between performers and the people paid to judge their work melted.

"Critics aren't so bad," Jennifer Lawrence said while accepting one of her two awards.

Here is a complete list of winners:


BEST ACTOR Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

BEST ACTRESS Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE Silver Linings Playbook

BEST DIRECTOR Ben Affleck – Argo

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Life of Pi – Claudio Miranda

BEST ART DIRECTION Anna Karenina – Sarah Greenwood/Production Designer, Katie Spencer/Set Decorator

BEST EDITING Zero Dark Thirty – William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor







BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games

BEST COMEDY Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook




BEST SONG "Skyfall" – performed by Adele/written by Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth – Skyfall

BEST SCORE Lincoln – John Williams  

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