Santa Monica's Barker Hangar was transformed on Thursday January 16 into a glamorous meeting place for most of Hollywood's biggest stars, as they descended on 19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards. The prizes, given out by the Broadcast Film Critics Association since 1995, honor “the finest in cinematic achievement,” according to the group's president, Joey Berlin.
He, and the more than 280 member critics from television, radio and the internet (including this author), are known for accurately predicting who will win Academy Awards, which is why the live show (shown on the CW Network) brings out the biggest movie stars on the planet.
Look one way, there were “August: Osage County” nominees Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts hamming for the cameras. Look another, and see the “American Hustle” stars Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams chatting up Elisabeth Rohm. There was Leonardo DiCaprio with Jonah Hill, Martin Scorsese and Margot Robbie (one of the most gorgeous women in the place) from “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson of “Saving Mr. Banks” fame; and Sandra Bullock and Alfonso Cuarón from “Gravity.” “Lee Daniels' The Butler” Best Supporting Actress nominee Oprah Winfrey sat with “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen and stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o; the stunning Nyong'o took the supporting actress statue home amid tears.
“This has been an incredible year of incredible performances,” she choked out.
Winfrey took the stage to give Forest Whitaker the Joel Siegel Award for his humanitarian work; and Matthew McConaughey did, too, to present Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater with the special LOUIS XIII Genius Award (sponsored by the famed Rémy Martin cognac), for creating the “Before” series of movies over the course of 18 years.
The convivial atmosphere in the crowded hall was pumped up with that cognac (only poured at the A-list tables), as well as with Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne, Purity Vodka and top-notch wines like Antica Napa Valley, Grgich Hills and Clos du Val, courtesy of the Napa Valley Vintners; Chef Joachim Splichal's Patina Catering did the food honors, with the famed chef even handing out nitrogen-zapped meringues to merry revelers at the after party. One priceless moment? “Twilight” hottie Kellan Lutz biting into a meringue and cracking up as he exhaled frozen air.
But before the party got really crazy, the show included Sandra Bullock winning for best actress in an action movie, and dropping the F-bomb on live t.v.; Di Caprio winning for best actor in a comedy and apologizing for everything he did in “The Wolf of Wall Street” to his mom and dad; Jared Leto winning best supporting actor for “Dallas Buyers Club” and reminding the room that AIDS is still a scourge in the world; and Matthew McConaughey, winning best actor for the same film, bounding onto the stage in a sliver Lanvin tuxedo and shouting, “Alright, alright! I will say that again!” Leto and McConaughey, along with “Blue Jasmine” lead Cate Blanchett, who took home the best actress award, seem to be riding an unstoppable streak of winning straight through to the Oscars.
Also joining the star-studded evening were Melissa McCarthy, Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Chastain, Sir Ben Kingsley, Steve Coogan, Marlon Wayans and Kevin Spacey.
“American Hustle” nabbed best acting ensemble, while “Gravity” took home a record seven CCMA statues, including best director for Alfonso Cuarón. But in the end, “12 Years a Slave” edged it out for best picture, perhaps a harbinger of Oscar night?
For a complete list of the 2014 winners, go to http://www.CriticsChoice.com/movie-awards.
Follow Jenny Peters and Spywitness on Twitter at @jennpeters.