Sunday, February 28, 2021

Politics, government, and diversity in movie nominees at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards

As I promised yesterday, this is "the final post of February, a Sunday entertainment feature about the movie nominees at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards." Not only is this a follow-up to the television nominations and Critics Choice Super Awards, it's a companion of sorts to tonight's Golden Globes, to which I'll compare and contrast. Remember, electorates matter.

I'll begin with the relevant paragraphs from the press release.
This year’s film nominees are led by Netflix’s “Mank,” which earned an impressive 12 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Gary Oldman, Best Supporting Actress for Amanda Seyfried, Best Director for David Fincher, Best Original Screenplay for Jack Fincher, Best Cinematography for Erik Messerschmidt, Best Production Design for Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale, Best Editing for Kirk Baxter, Best Costume Design for Trish Summerville, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. “Minari” (A24) followed closely behind with 10 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Steven Yeun, Best Supporting Actress for Yuh-Jung Youn, Best Young Actor/Actress for Alan Kim, Best Acting Ensemble, Best Director for Lee Isaac Chung, Best Original Screenplay for Lee Isaac Chung, Best Cinematography for Lachlan Milne, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Score for Emile Mosseri.

With her nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Father,” Olivia Colman becomes the only artist recognized for their work in both film and television this season, having previously been announced as a nominee for her leading role in “The Crown” (Netflix). Chadwick Boseman also received multiple nominations for his outstanding performances in both “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix) and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix), and Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross have two chances to win in the Best Score category with their nominations for “Mank” (Netflix) and “Soul” (Disney).

In the studio/network tally, Netflix leads both film and television nominations with a total of 72 possible wins. HBO/HBO Max carries over their 24 series nominations, and Amazon Studios expands its total to 18 with today’s film additions.
Like the Golden Globes, the most nominated movie is "Mank," so it's the default favorite in the first category, even though Critics Choice Awards voting member Grace Randolph ranked "Promising Young Woman" first on her ballot.


Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Mank (Netflix)
Minari (A24)
News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Unlike the Golden Globes, which only allows five nominees, the Critics Choice Awards allow up to ten, which is also the maximum number for the Oscars. As such, I'll have to add to my descriptions for the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Super Awards. I begin by recycling from my analysis of the Golden Globes.
"Mank" has more nominations than any other film...It also is a story about Hollywood, which, all other things being equal, makes it the favorite because Hollywood loves good show about itself. It will probably be enough for "Mank" to win this category at the Golden Globes and earn lots of nominations at the Oscars, making it the favorite there, too. However, when Grace mentions that it includes politics, it's mostly the politics of Hollywood and the movie industry, not the politics that influences government. "The Trial of the Chicago 7" covers that..."Nomadland," which IMDB describes as "After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad"...looks more like a documentary than a scripted drama.
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" also explores social and political issues within entertainment, as IMDB summarizes the film as "During a recording session, tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable 'Mother of the Blues'." Both feature diverse nominees as well as depicting African-American perspectives on their respective eras.
While I mentioned "One Night in Miami," I didn't say much other than it tied for political content with "Judas and the Black Messiah" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" among movies with supporting actor nominations at this year's Golden Globes, so I'm quoting the movie's IMDB description: "A fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the Civil Rights Movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s." I also skimmed over "Minari" and "The Sound of Metal," but that's because neither is really political, although both feature the stories of people of color, provide interesting social commentary, and have nominated performances by their lead actors. Speaking of nominated performances, "News of the World" and "Promising Young Woman" both showcase the talents of their lead actresses and examine social issues, although "News of the World" has elements of a war movie with the military involved. Speaking of the military, "Da Five Bloods" did not earn a nomination at the Golden Globes, but it won two Critics Choice Super Awards, Best Action Movie and Best Actor in an Action Movie. I pointed out that it's a war movie and told my readers to remember that "the military is a branch of government and war is a kind of international politics."

Follow over the jump for the rest of the movie nominations and my opinions, including how well the nominated movies fit the themes of politics and government and how well they showcase diversity.


Another Round (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Collective (Magnolia Pictures)
La Llorona (Shudder)
The Life Ahead (Netflix)
Minari (A24)
Two of Us (Magnolia Pictures)
I'm moving this category up here from where it is in the press release because "Minari" is the second most nominated movie and because I prefer to write about the movies before I write about the actors and talent behind the camera in them. I will do that again for the comedy nominees. With that out of the way, I'm recycling my commentary for the equivalent category at the Golden Globes: "The films about politics and government are 'Another Round,' about four drunken high school teachers, 'La Llorona,' a horror film about a war criminal, and 'The Life Ahead,' about a Holocaust survivor who takes in a street kid." The other nominee about politics and government is "Collective," which IMDB summarizes as "Director Alexander Nanau follows a crack team of investigators at the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor as they try to uncover a vast health-care fraud that enriched moguls and politicians and led to the deaths of innocent citizens." Oh, my, that reads like "Spotlight." The one Critics Choice Association (CCA) member I follow, Grace Randolph of Beyond The Trailer, stated her preference for "The Life Ahead" at the Golden Globes but didn't include the category in her nominating ballot. That written, I think more members of the CCA will vote for "Minari" because of its ten nominations to three for "The Life Ahead."


Ben Affleck – The Way Back (Warner Bros.)
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Tom Hanks – News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Anthony Hopkins – The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Gary Oldman – Mank (Netflix)
Steven Yeun – Minari (A24)
Speaking of showcasing diversity, this field does a great job of that, as four of the eight nominees are people of color, Riz Ahmed, Chadwick Boseman, Delroy Lindo, and Steven Yuen. Lindo has already won the Critics Choice Super Award for Best Actor in an Action Movie, but I don't think he'll repeat here. Instead, I think it's between Chadwick Boseman and Gary Oldman, who earned nominations at the Screen Actors Guild Awards along with Ahmed, Anthony Hopkins, and Steven Yuen for their roles. As for the rest of the nominees, Tom Hanks plays a veteran, while Ben Affleck portrays a high school basketball coach. Since public schools are government institutions, the setting alone qualifies "The Way Back" as a movie about government. Affleck has at least one vote, as Grace voted for him first on her nominating ballot.


Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu)
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features)
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman (Netflix)
Frances McDormand – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
Zendaya – Malcolm & Marie (Netflix)
I begin by recycling from the Golden Globes.
Based on the IMDB description, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" has the most politics and government content, as the film "Follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair."
The other movie with a surprising amount of political and government content is "Never Rarely Sometimes Always," as the storyline on the movie's IMDB page explains.
Inseparable best friends and cousins Autumn and Skylar precariously navigate the vulnerability of female adolescence in rural Pennsylvania. When Autumn mysteriously falls pregnant, she's confronted by conservative legislation without mercy for blue-collar women seeking an abortion. With Skylar's unfailing support and bold resourcefulness, money to fund the procedure is secured and the duo board a bus bound for New York state to find the help Autumn needs.
Oh, my, that's much more serious than I expected.

In addition to Day, the field includes Emmy winners Viola Davis and Zendaya, making it only a little less diverse than the one for Best Actor. While I wouldn't count out Davis and Zendaya, who will be receiving the SeeHer Award and has the best Twitter campaign on her behalf, I think the likely winners are Frances McDormand and Carey Mulligan, who Grace voted first on her nominating ballot.

Now for the second specialty movie category that I moved so I can discuss the films before the actors.


Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Amazon Studios)
The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)
The King of Staten Island (Universal Pictures)
On the Rocks (A24/Apple TV+)
Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON)
The Prom (Netflix)
Once again, I'm being a good environmentalist and recycling from the Golden Globes.
"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" has both the most nominations of any movie in this category, three, and the most current political content, including a really memorable prank on Rudy Giuliani. As Grace says, it could very likely win, as much as she thinks "The Prom" deserves it more.
Before I move on, as much as Grace dumps on "Palm Springs," I want to stand up for it. Not only was it a decent comedy, but it won the Critics Choice Super Awards for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie, Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie (Andy Samberg), and Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie (Cristin Milioti). Given the other nominees in these categories, I would agree with those wins.
While I glossed over it when I covered the Golden Globes, IMDB's synopsis of "The Prom" shows it has some political and government content beyond its social commentary: "A troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theater stars swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom." In addition to the public high school setting, which alone qualifies the movie as being about government, the plot is about activism and acceptance, so it's political. While "The Prom" examines one axis of diversity, sexual orientation, "The Forty-Year-Old Version" features the axis more commonly thought of when diversity is mentioned, race and ethnicity, with a very diverse cast. However, it's about entertainment, not politics.

While Grace Randolph must likely will be voting for "The Prom," which was the only vote on her nominating ballot that made the final cut, the two most nominated comedies are "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" and "On the Rocks," both of which have supporting acting nominations in addition to their nominations for Best Comedy. Between the two, I think "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" has the inside track.


Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
Bill Murray – On the Rocks (A24/Apple TV+)
Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Time to recycle!
Fortunately for the theme of this entry, Grace's top three choices come from the three most political films, Sacha Baron Cohen for “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and Leslie Odom Jr. for “One Night In Miami.” Out of the three, Kaluuya is...Grace's favorite...
Since I haven't discussed "Judas and the Black Messiah" beyond this mention for Kaluuya, it's time that I quote the movie's IMDB description: "Bill O'Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party per FBI Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover. As Party Chairman Fred Hampton ascends, falling for a fellow revolutionary en route, a battle wages for O'Neal's soul." Between this movie, "The Trial of the Chicago 7," and to a lesser extent "One Night in Miami," the field examines 1960s radicalism and activism surprisingly well. It's also a diverse field with Boseman's second posthumous nomination, Kaluuya and Odom. I think any of the three of them could win, although Grace ranked Boseman first on her nominating ballot.


Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Amazon Studios)
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman (Netflix)
Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
Olivia Colman – The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
Amanda Seyfried – Mank (Netflix)
Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari (A24)
This is probably the least diverse field of nominees at these awards, with Yuh-Jung Youn from "Minari" as the only actress of color. Youn still makes this a more diverse field than the equivalent one at the Golden Globes, about which I wrote the following.
The three biggest names in this field are Glenn Close, Olivia Colman, and [Ellen Burstyn]. Grace expressed her cynicism about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association when she said that Close and Colman would only win this award if the HFPA couldn't help themselves. On the other hand, she thought...Amanda Seyfried...deserved the award [and] wants Seyfried.
The CCA didn't nominate Jodie Foster from "The Mauritanian," so if I want to root for the nominee from the most political movie, I would have to root for Maria Bakalova from "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm." I'd rather join Grace and root for Seyfried, her only choice on her nominating ballot to receive a nomination.


Ryder Allen – Palmer (Apple TV+)
Ibrahima Gueye – The Life Ahead (Netflix)
Alan Kim – Minari (A24)
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features)
Caoilinn Springall – The Midnight Sky (Netflix)
Helena Zengel – News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Ibrahima Gueye from "The Life Ahead" and Alan Kim from "Minari" make this a more diverse field of nominees than the one for Best Supporting Actress. That written, the most political movie with a nominee is "Never Rarely Sometimes Always," the speculative fiction nominee with a government angle is "The Midnight Sky," and the historical adventure movie with the nominee having the best chance of winning this category is "News of the World." Helena Zengel has a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes and Grace the CCA voting member has had nothing but praise for her performance and voted to nominate her as Best Supporting Actress, so she's my pick to win.


Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Minari (A24)
One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
With four of the films having predominantly African-American casts and a fifth featuring Korean and Korean-American actors and actresses, this is probably the most diverse field of nominees at these awards. In addition, five of the films have strong political content with "The Trial of the Chicago 7" replacing "Minari." As for which I think will win, I will defer to the Hollywood professionals. Only "Da 5 Bloods", "Minari," and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" have nominations from both the Screen Actors Guild and Casting Society of America. However, "The Trial of the Chicago 7" has only one individual acting nomination, "Da 5 Bloods" has two, and "Minari" has three. On that basis, I'm picking "Minari" even though Grace voted to nominate "Judas and the Black Messiah" and I could only find a promo photo on Twitter for "One Night in Miami."

Lee Isaac Chung – Minari (A24)
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
David Fincher – Mank (Netflix)
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Regina King – One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
My recycled opinion is "Grace thinks it's between David Fincher and Chloé Zhao with Fincher favored. I agree." It helps that Grace ranked Fincher and "Mank" first on her nominating ballot. However, she also thought the Golden Globes snubbed Spike Lee, so he could be a spoiler along with Zhao, who won this category at the Satellite Awards. Adding Lee means that four of the seven nominees are people of color and three of them are women, a diverse field.

Lee Isaac Chung – Minari (A24)
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
Jack Fincher – Mank (Netflix)
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features)
Darius Marder & Abraham Marder – Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Once again, I'm recycling: "The best overall screenwriter is probably Aaron Sorkin, although I think he's a little too in love with his own opinions. Just the same, Grace and I agree he's the most likely to win, followed by Jack Fincher for 'Mank.'" This field features diversity along two axes, with two female nominees, Emerald Fennell and Eliza Hittman, and one writer of color, Lee Issac Chung. Too bad none of them are likely to win, although I wouldn't completely count out Fennell, who has written for "Killing Eve" and "The Crown." Grace ranked her first on her nominating ballot.

Paul Greengrass & Luke Davies – News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller – The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow (A24)
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
Once again, the CCA has nominated a diverse group of writers including Kemp Powers, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and Chloé Zhao composing half the field. My gut says to go with Zhao, but the professionals disagree, not nominiating Zhao but instead nominating Powers, Santiago-Hudson, and Paul Greengrass and Luke Davies. I'm not sure which one more CCA members will vote for, although Grace had Greengrass and Davies for "News of the World" ranked highest on her nominating ballot of all the nominees.

Christopher Blauvelt – First Cow (A24)
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank (Netflix)
Lachlan Milne – Minari (A24)
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
Newton Thomas Sigel – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Hoyte Van Hoytema – Tenet (Warner Bros.)
Dariusz Wolski – News of the World (Universal Pictures)
"Mank" won Best Cinematography at the Satellite Awards, so I think it's between "Mank" and "Nomadland," which has more nominations for cinematography, for this category. Grace ranked "Mank" first on her ballot.

Cristina Casali, Charlotte Dirickx – The Personal History of David Copperfield (Searchlight Pictures)
David Crank, Elizabeth Keenan – News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas – Tenet (Warner Bros.)
Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale – Mank (Netflix)
Kave Quinn, Stella Fox – Emma (Focus Features)
Mark Ricker, Karen O’Hara & Diana Stoughton – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
I'm going with "Mank," which won the equivalent category at the Satellite Awards and has Grace's first-place nominating vote.

Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Kirk Baxter – Mank (Netflix)
Jennifer Lame – Tenet (Warner Bros.)
Yorgos Lamprinos – The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
Mikkel E. G. Nielsen – Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
My gut says "Tenet," but "The Trial of the Chicago 7" won the Satellite award for film editing, so I'm not sure.

Alexandra Byrne – Emma (Focus Features)
Bina Daigeler – Mulan (Disney)
Suzie Harman & Robert Worley – The Personal History of David Copperfield (Searchlight Pictures)
Ann Roth – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Nancy Steiner – Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
Trish Summerville – Mank (Netflix)
"The Personal History of David Copperfield" won the equivalent Satellite Award, which looks good to me, although Grace listed "Promising Young Woman" first on her nominating ballot.

Emma (Focus Features)
Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Mank (Netflix)
Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu)
If the CCA members want to reward hair styling and makeup that transforms performers, they should vote for "Hillbilly Elegy," which turned two gorgeous actresses into homely people. If they want makeup that makes people look good, they should vote for "Emma" or "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." If they want makeup that attracts attention to itself, they should vote for "Promising Young Woman." If they want a balance, they should vote for "Mank." My guess would be either "Hillbilly Elegy" or "Mank," although Grace preferred "Promising Young Woman" on her nominating ballot.

Greyhound (Apple TV+)
The Invisible Man (Universal Pictures)
Mank (Netflix)
The Midnight Sky (Netflix)
Mulan (Disney)
Tenet (Warner Bros.)
Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.)
"Greyhound" and "Mulan" are war movies, while "Wonder Woman 1984" almost becomes one. As for my pick, it's "Tenet." Grace liked "Mank" better on her nominating ballot.

Everybody Cries – The Outpost (Screen Media Films)
Fight for You – Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
Husavik (My Home Town) – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix)
Io sì (Seen) – The Life Ahead (Netflix)
Speak Now – One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios)
Tigress & Tweed – The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu)
The most popular of all the nominees is "Husavik (My Home Town)" from "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga," which has nearly 11 million views on YouTube on its two official uploads. The next most popular is "Io sì (Seen)" from "The Life Ahead" with 4.1 million views on its official YouTube uploads. While I haven't decided which is most likely to win, I'll go with the people's choice.

The official full length version of Husavik - My Home Town, the half-English half-Icelandic ballad banger as performed by Fire Saga (Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell) in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
That's a surprisingly good song that Grace had on her nominating ballot, but I don't think that will beat "Speak Now," but another song, like "Io sì (Seen)," could. By the way, the least popular song was "Everybody Cries" from the war movie "The Outpost": with less than 100 thousand views.

Alexandre Desplat – The Midnight Sky (Netflix)
Ludwig Göransson – Tenet (Warner Bros.)
James Newton Howard – News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Emile Mosseri – Minari (A24)
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Mank (Netflix)
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste – Soul (Disney)
I'm picking my final music selection the same way I did above, by popularity on YouTube, which results in Ludwig Göransson's score for "Tenet" coming in first with 2.5 million views. The video about the music of "Soul" I shared last week came in second with 749K views. Here is TENET Official Soundtrack | POSTERITY - Ludwig Göransson.

POSTERITY, a new song by Ludwig Göransson from the #OfficialMovieSoundtrack? of TENET starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Himesh Patel and Michael Caine
If any nominee can beat "Soul," it's "TENET." Grace ranked them first and third, but her second choice did not get nominated.

That's it for the last post and Sunday entertainment feature for February. Stay tuned for the first post of March.

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