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Three burning questions from last night’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: With the announcements of the winners at the 16th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, the Oscar picture – which has been fuzzy for week – begins to clear. After cleaning up with most of the year-end critical accolades, David Fincher and “The Social Network” added two more prestigious wins to their tally. And several other frontrunners put more distance between themselves and the competition.

In the wake of last night’s awards show, here are three questions I think need addressing as we prepare for the Oscar nominations on Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Are these our Oscar winners?
Probably. The Broadcast Film Critics Association likes to say it provides the most accurate predictor of Oscar winners, and it’s easy to see last night’s CCMA winners prevailing at the Oscars. “The Social Network” is the frontrunner in the Best Picture category, and Fincher likely will follow along to a Best Director win. Wins by “The King’s Speech” at the Golden Globes could cut into Fincher’s momentum, but really, I think the Oscar is his to lose.

In the acting categories, Colin Firth appears poised to lead the Best Actor pack, and Natalie Portman added to her already existing momentum. Pundits have been saying for weeks that Firth and Portman are likely winners, and the CCMAs did very little to rewrite that story.

Things gets a little dicey in the supporting actor categories, though. While CCMA Best Supporting Actor winner Christian Bale appears to be a frontrunner in his respective Oscar category, his co-star, Melissa Leo, might see some competition. Leo prevailed in the category at the CCMAs, but her win might be owed to the fact that rival contender Hailee Steinfeld won in the Young Actor/Actress category for “True Grit.” Of course, the Academy does not offer such a category, so Leo and Steinfeld will go head-to-head on Oscar night, and the race might be closer than you think.

Which leads me to question No. 2 …

Is “The Fighter” a legitimate contender now?
Absolutely. Wins for Leo and Bale were predicted by some, yet still rang out as a vote of confidence in David O. Russell’s film. The bigger surprise? “Fighter” took the Best Ensemble award at the CCMAs, besting “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” in what looked to be a hard-fought category.

Now the ball is in Paramount’s court. Can they shift even more momentum to the side of Russell’s hard-luck-boxer drama? Will “The Fighter” go the distance in an effort to knock “The Social Network” out of its perceived frontrunner slot in the Best Picture race? Or is it Fincher’s fate, no matter what happens between now and Feb. 27?

And that brings me to question No. 3.

Will David Fincher show up at the Oscars?
Maybe. He wasn’t at the CCMAs, the only winner to pull a no-show at last night’s event. Now, we know Fincher is overseas filming his American adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Will be take a break from filming to attend the Oscars (and, presumably, accept his award)?

I’d say it’s 50-50. Fincher’s notoriously press shy. He didn’t attending the “Social Network” junket last October, picking and choosing which press events he’d attend. While he did contribute to a director’s commentary for the new “Social Network” DVD, Fincher has not been “working the crowd” this Oscar season, choosing instead to dive into his next project. Unavailability is not hurting him in the Oscar race. He continues to win prizes as the season ticks on. But if he takes home the top prize – his first Best Director Oscar – will he even be in the Kodak Theatre to accept the accolade?

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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One Comment

  • January 15, 2011 | Permalink |

    Ugh, I thought The Social Network was severely overrated and got most of it’s attention due to the subject matter rather than the movie as a whole. I’m a big David Fincher fan and he’s never let me down. Good movie but it didn’t make my Top Ten. I thought Howl was by far the best movie of the year with it’s combination of animation, acting, and cinematography. You can check out my list on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2010/12/top-10-movie-picks-of-2010.html

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