My article is published on RogerEbert. com, although this post is similar in theme it contains a few more photos of the Red Carpet and the Awards show. The awards event took place January 15, 2023. The link to the article is posted below. Here’s a capsule of the original article, with a few more personal thoughts. I urge you to read the Roger Ebert article as it has the commentary of the show and the winners list.
Click the link below for the article:
By far, the highlight for me was meeting Austin Butler as “Elvis” is in my top five favorite films of 2023. I asked Austin about working with Quentin Tarantino in the film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and he said, “I learned so much from Quentin about filmmaking.” When I asked to take a photo of him by himself for my article, he said, “You have to be in it!” Next, I smiled and handed him my phone.
Judging by the elated vibe in the Fairmont Century City Ballroom, where smiles and laughter prevailed, the downpour of rain in Los Angeles didn’t place a damper on the 28th Critics Choice Awards. Airing live on The CW channel this past January 15th, talent and critics joined in celebrating the year in film and TV in an event hosted by the hysterical Chelsea Handler. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won Best Film, taking home the most awards with five. Best Actor went to Brendan Fraser for “The Whale,” and Best Actress went to Cate Blanchett for “TÁR.”
My evening began three hours before the show on the Red Carpet inside the hotel, where talent conversed with journalists while showing off the latest fashions. Talk about style; the guys looked incredible as the obligatory tux has been redesigned. Jack Champion, who plays Spider Socorro in “Avatar: The Way of Water,” also my favorite character from the film, wore a double-buttoned down gray suit. He spoke about his audition: “It was a long process with four screen tests, I flew to California many times from my small town in Virginia, but I finally got the job. I was so excited.”
Singer, musician, songwriter, record producer, actor, and author, Weird Al Yankovic is best known for his accordion playing and creating comedy songs that joke about pop culture; they are often parody specific songs by present-day musicians. Wearing a classic black suit and tie, he spoke with me about his new ‘exaggerated’ biopic film, “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.” He talked about his fake downward spiral in the film and his big comeback and said, “About every ten years, we need a farce biopic like ‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,’ or ‘This is Spinal Tap,’ or ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,’ to remind us how utterly stupid biopics really are.”
It was great to meet Ana Taylor Joy, as I was able to talk with her backstage during the Critics Choice Awards a few years ago win she won for “The Queen’s Gambit.”
After leaving the Red Carpet, I walked downstairs to the Ballroom—to say the atmosphere was electric would be an understatement; the DJ played pre-party tunes while talent and guests mingled before the show. Everywhere you turned, talent was either sipping, chatting, or swaying to the music. My table near the front of the room was considered the FX channel table, with the cast of the hit show “The Bear” A fitting table, as the TV series is in Chicago, which is very close to my hometown.
Actors Jeremy Allan White, Ayo Edebiri, Matty Matheson, Lionel Boyce, and Liza Colon-Zavas from the series chatted with me throughout the evening. At one point, I was seated next to White, who plays a chef in the show, at the exact moment he won Best Actor in a Television Comedy. I took a quick video of him hugging his cast and walking to the stage. Afterward, I asked him if he’d like to see the video; he liked it so much that he sent it to himself from my phone. It was fun chatting with White as I’d seen every Season of “Shameless” also filmed in Chicago, of which he was a member of the cast. He started on that show just after he graduated from High School.
“The Woman King” table was very close to mine. Before the show began, I spoke with Viola Davis and told her I screened “The Woman King” in Toronto at TIFF, and unbeknownst to both of us, Chaz Ebert walked into the theater before the film started and sat next to me during it. I told her how much I appreciated showing strong women on film and that her performance was tremendous. She smiled and thanked me, saying, “We had a great team.”
Speaking of the team, I was delighted to meet Thuso Mbedu as I was riveted by her starring role in Barry Jenkins TV series “The Underground Railroad” and her portrayal of Nawi in “The Woman King,” an ambitious new recruit to the all-female military unit lead by Nanisca (Davis). I asked her about the camaraderie between the actors in the film as director Gina Prince-Bythewood was so grateful for the cast’s support of each other. Mbedu replied, “Yes, and thank you for my work with Barry; it was an honor. In regards to Gina’s comments, yes, at times it felt so special, a sisterhood, as the comforting and nurturing attitude of the women helped me relax, knowing they wanted me to succeed.”
It’s always fun to see the talent you’ve met in the past. Having met Gina Prince-Bythewood, director of “The Women King,” at the Critics Choice Celebration of Black Cinema and Television Awards, it was delightful to talk about the accolades the film has received. Prince-Bythewood said, “Yes, it’s been a great ride, and I also appreciate journalists like yourself who love the film.”
A notable change in photo taking was observed. I purposely asked to take a few photos of talent by themselves and discovered that, for whatever reason, they wanted me to be in the photo. I’d say, “That’s okay, thanks; I’d like a solo shot of you for my article.” After taking one of Paul Dano, he said, “You know, you should be in one with me; it will be better.” He smiled and cocked his head, so how could I turn down Steven Spielberg’s father?
Jennifer Coolidge, winner of the Best Actress, Comedy Series “White Lotus” said to me, “I’m just so surprised at the success of ‘White Lotus.’ I’m really blown away.” Again, I asked for a solo, and she asked if I’d be in it as well.
Speaking with Jeff Bridges, this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, I commented on his father. He said during his acceptance speech that today was his father’s birthday and that his dad Lloyd Bridges is why he’s an actor. He talked about his dad’s influences on him and his support and encouragement. I spoke with him briefly, saying that I’ve seen almost all of his films and that I met “The Dude” Jeff Dowd, the real guy his character is based upon in “The Big Lebowski” at EbertFest; he chuckled and shook his head, saying, “That had to be a real trip!” I also praised his work in “Crazy Heart” as his singing was phenomenal; he won our Best Actor Award in 2010 and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.
I had fun talking with Madelyn Cline of the TV Series “Outer Banks” and currently starring in The film, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”
Brendan Fraser accepted the award for Best Actor in a Drama; I wondered if he’d break into tears as he has done at film festivals. He took a while getting to the stage, and when he began, he was actually joking around about his career, although when he began talking about “The Whale,” the floodgates opened.
“The Whale” is about love, it’s about redemption, and it’s about finding the light in a dark place. And I’m so lucky to have worked with an ensemble that is incredible and includes Hong Chau, who should have her own movie based on every character she’s ever played, and Sadie Sink, who is incredible. Your talent precedes your age; it took me 32 years to get here.”
All and all, the 28th annual Critics Choice Awards felt like a celebration of talent as the atmosphere was heightened by excitement, gratitude, and enthusiasm.
Winners list and full article posted on Roger Ebert com:
Sarah Knight Adamson@ February 16, 2023