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Christoph Waltz & Mo'Nique: Critics Awards' Clean Sweep

Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds: Veteran Austrian actor Best Supporting Actor favoriteChristoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds. The Vienna-born veteran – whose big-screen career dates back to the early 1980s, e.g., Tristan and Isolde, Kopfstand – is the clear Best Supporting Actor favorite this awards season for his performance as a vicious Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's World War II revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds. Besides, Waltz happens to be a shoo-in for the 2010 Academy Awards. Also in the Inglourious Basterds cast: Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger, Mélanie Laurent, Eli Roth, Léa Seydoux, Bo Svenson, and veteran Rod Taylor (The Time Machine, The Birds).

Christoph Waltz & Mo'Nique win Chicago & elsewhere

As announced on Dec. 21, the Chicago Film Critics Association's most astounding surprises were found in the supporting categories: Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique won for, respectively, Quentin Tarantino's World War II revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds and Lee Daniels' dysfunctional family drama Precious.

As far as surprises go, that's the way it has mostly been when it comes to just about every single U.S. film critics group this – and every other – awards season. The expected winners expectedly winning in their respective categories. And, with the few exceptions noted in this post, here we go.

Jeremy Renner & Mark Boal also top Chicago

Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker, which follows a bomb disposal unit as they go about doing their work, topped each of the five categories in which it had been shortlisted for the Chicago Film Critics Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jeremy Renner), Best Original Screenplay (Mark Boal), and Best Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd).

This has been one of screenwriter Mark Boal's few wins thus far. Despite the popularity of The Hurt Locker among U.S. film critics, Boal has been usually bypassed in favor of the screenwriters of Up in the Air, A Serious Man, and/or (500) Days of Summer.

It must have helped that, unlike many of their counterparts, the Chicago Film Critics have two screenplay categories. In fact, Up in the Air, written by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, was named Best Adapted Screenplay.

More Chicago Film Critics winners

Among the Chicago Film Critics' other picks were Pete Docter's animated hit Up, which won Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score (Michael Giacchino), and Carey Mulligan, named both Most Promising Performer and Best Actress for Lone Scherfig's coming-of-age drama An Education, in which she plays a London school student ready to have her first sexual experience with a man about twice her age.

The White Ribbon / Das Weiße Band, Michael Haneke's drama about strange goings-on in a small village in pre-World War I Germany, was voted Best Foreign Language Film, while Neill Blomkamp was selected Most Promising Filmmaker for the sleeper hit District 9.

Additionally, Anvil: The True Story of Anvil, described in the Chicago Film Critics' press release as “a real-life This is Spinal Tap,” won the award for Best Documentary.

Chicago Film Critics winners

* The Hurt Locker.
Inglourious Basterds.
A Serious Man.
Up in the Air.
Where the Wild Things Are.

Broken Embraces.
Red Cliff.
Sin Nombre.
Summer Hours.
* The White Ribbon.

* Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.
Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man.
Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are.
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air.
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds.

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart.
George Clooney, Up in the Air.
Matt Damon, The Informant!.
* Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker.
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man.

Abbie Cornish, Bright Star.
* Carey Mulligan, An Education.
Maya Rudolph, Away We Go.
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia.

Peter Capaldi, In the Loop.
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger.
Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles.
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones.
* Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air.
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air.
* Mo'Nique, Precious.
Julianne Moore, A Single Man.
Natalie Portman, Brothers.

Away We Go, Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida.
* The Hurt Locker, Mark Boal.
Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino.
A Serious Man, Joel & Ethan Coen.
Up, Bob Peterson.

An Education, Nick Hornby.
In the Loop, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche.
The Informant!, Scott Z. Burns.
* Up in the Air, Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner.
Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers.

Avatar, Mauro Fiore.
Bright Star, Greig Fraser.
* The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd.
Inglourious Basterds, Robert Richardson.
Where the Wild Things Are, Lance Acord.

* Up, Michael Giacchino.
Avatar, James Horner.
Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat.
The Informant!, Marvin Hamlisch.
Where the Wild Things Are, Carter Burwell & Karen Orzolek.

* Anvil!: The True Story of Anvil.
Capitalism: A Love Story.
The Cove.
Food, Inc.

Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The Princess and the Frog.
* Up.

Sharlto Copley, District 9.
Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles.
* Carey Mulligan, An Education.
Max Records, Where the Wild Things Are.
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.

* Neill Blomkamp, District 9.
Scott Cooper, Crazy Heart.
Cary Fukunaga, Sin Nombre.
Duncan Jones, Moon.
Marc Webb, (500) Days of Summer.

Mo'Nique in Precious: Comedian is clear Best Supporting Actress favorite for demented Harlem motherMo'Nique in Precious. The year's clear Best Supporting Actress favorite, mostly television actress/comedian Mo'Nique (The Parkers) plays Gabourey Sidibe's demented mother in Lee Daniels' Harlem-set, dysfunctional family drama Precious, adapted by Geoffrey Fletcher from the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. The film had its title changed from Push so as not to be confused with Paul McGuigan's sci-fi action-thriller of the same name, starring Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning.

St. Louis Film Critics' winners: George Clooney & Carey Mulligan

Up in the Air has bagged one more U.S. film critics' award: on Dec. 21, the St. Louis Film Critics Association announced it as their Best Film of 2009. The runner-up was Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker.

George Clooney was voted Best Actor for Up in the Air, with Patton Oswalt coming in second place for his performance in Big Fan.

The Best Actress was once again Carey Mulligan for An Education. She was followed by Gabourey Sidibe's illiterate pregnant teenager in Lee Daniels' Precious.

Christoph Waltz & Mo'Nique strike again

Nothing new among the supporting category winners. The Best Supporting Actor was Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds, followed by Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones.

Mo'Nique was the Best Supporting Actress for Precious; the runner-up in this category was Marion Cotillard for Rob Marshall's musical Nine.

The Best Director was Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. There was a runner-up tie between Jason Reitman for Up in the Air and Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds.

The Best Screenplay was Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber's (500) Days of Summer, followed by Reitman and Sheldon Turner's Up in the Air.

A couple of unusual winners: 'Capitalism: A Love Story' & 'Red Cliff'

The Best Documentary was, somewhat surprisingly, Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, followed by the Chicago Film Critics' winner rockumentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

The Best Animated Film was, totally unsurprisingly, Pete Docter's Up; the runner-up was Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox.

John Woo's Chinese blockbuster Red Cliff, which has been mostly bypassed this awards season, was the Best Foreign Language Film. Woo's war epic was followed by another East Asian-set (but here U.S.-financed) production, So Yong Kim's Treeless Mountain, which has been completely bypassed elsewhere.

St. Louis Film Critics winners

Best Film
(500) Days of Summer.
An Education.
The Hurt Locker.
* Up in the Air.

Best Foreign Language Film
The Baader Meinhof Complex.
Coco Before Chanel.
The Maid.
* Red Cliff.
Sin Nombre.
Treeless Mountain.

Best Director
Wes Anderson - Fantastic Mr. Fox.
* Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker.
Oren Moverman - The Messenger.
Jason Reitman - Up in the Air.
Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart.
* George Clooney - Up in the Air.
Ben Foster - The Messenger.
Morgan Freeman - Invictus.
Patton Oswalt - Big Fan.
Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker.

Best Actress
* Carey Mulligan - An Education.
Saoirse Ronan - The Lovely Bones.
Maya Rudolph - Away We Go.
Gabourey Sidibe - Precious.
Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall - The Road.
Woody Harrelson - The Messenger.
Alfred Molina - An Education.
Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones.
* Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds.

Best Supporting Actress
Marion Cotillard - Nine.
Vera Farmiga - Up in the Air.
Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air.
Mélanie Laurent - Inglourious Basterds.
* Mo'Nique - Precious.
Samantha Morton - The Messenger.

Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted)
* (500) Days of Summer - Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber.
An Education - Nick Hornby.
The Hurt Locker - Mark Boal.
Inglourious Basterds - Quentin Tarantino.
Up in the Air - Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner.

Best Cinematography
The Hurt Locker - Barry Ackroyd.
Inglourious Basterds - Robert Richardson.
* Nine - Dion Beebe.
Red Cliff - Lü Yue & Zhang Li.
A Single Man - Eduard Grau.
Where the Wild Things Are - Lance Acord.

Best Documentary
Anvil: The Story of Anvil.
* Capitalism: A Love Story.
Food, Inc.
Good Hair.

Best Animated Film
Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The Princess and the Frog.
* Up.

Best Music
Crazy Heart.
* Nine.
Pirate Radio.
The Princess and the Frog.

Best Visual Effects
* Avatar.
District 9.
The Lovely Bones.
Star Trek.
Where the Wild Things Are.

Best Comedy
(500) Days of Summer.
Away We Go.
* The Hangover.
Pirate Radio.

Most Original, Innovative or Creative Film (“Most Artistic Film”)
(500) Days of Summer.
* Avatar.
District 9.
Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The Lovely Bones.

Special Merit (“Favorite Scene”)
(500) Days of Summer - Expectations vs. reality split-screen sequence.
(500) Days of Summer - Morning after dance number.
Inglourious Basterds - The opening farm house scene.
Precious - Mo'Nique at social worker office scene.
* Up - Opening marriage montage at beginning.

George Clooney in Up in the Air: frequent-flying company-downsizing drama 1 of US critics' favesGeorge Clooney in Up in the Air. The story of a frequent-flying company-downsizing expert, Jason Reitman's Up in the Air stars St. Louis Film Critics Association and Florida Film Critics Circle Best Actor winner George Clooney, in addition to Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga. Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner's adaptation of Walter Kirn's novel was named the year's Best Adapted Screenplay by the Chicago Film Critics Association. The film itself was the St. Louis and Florida film critics' top pick, while Jason Reitman was Florida's Best Director.

'Up in the Air' & 'Sin Nombre' top Florida

Up in the Air was the top choice of the Florida Film Critics Circle. Jason Reitman's comedy-drama about an expert corporate downsizer who travels throughout the United States just so he can fire people won a total of three awards: Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor for George Clooney.

Lee Daniels' family drama Precious also won three awards: a surprising one for Best Actress Gabourey Sidibe, who has usually been listed as a nominee or runner-up; an unsurprising one for Best Supporting Actress Mo'Nique, who has been winning awards left and right; and a second award to Sidibe as the year's breakthrough talent.

Also unsurprising were the following Florida picks:

  • Cary Fukunaga's socially conscious immigrant drama Sin Nombre (lit., “Without Name”) as Best Foreign Language Film. (The screenwriter/director was billed as Cary Joji Fukunaga.)
  • Louie Psihoyos' The Cove, about the wholesale slaughter of dolphins in a Japanese fishing village, as Best Documentary.
  • Pete Docter's blockbuster Up as Best Animated Feature.
  • And last but certainly not least, Christoph Waltz as Best Supporting Actor for Inglourious Basterds.

'(500) Days of Summer' vs. 'Up in the Air' + 'Avatar' & 'The Hurt Locker' surprises

According to the Florida Film Critics' press release, the narrowest win was that of Best Screenplay (500) Days of Summer (Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber), which barely beat Up in the Air (Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner).

One more surprise: Mauro Fiore's Best Cinematography win for James Cameron's futuristic 3D spectacle Avatar, as Barry Ackroyd has been getting most of the mentions for his work on The Hurt Locker.

One might add that just about any Avatar win (apart from most technical categories) is a surprise, as the most eagerly awaited film of 2009 has – somewhat unexpectedly – been mostly bypassed by U.S. film critics groups this awards season. (One key exception: the New York Film Critics Online.)

At the other extreme, U.S. critics' fave The Hurt Locker being completely shut out in Florida was definitely a surprise as well.

Founded in 1996, the Florida Film Critics Circle is comprised of 17 writers from state-based publications.

Florida Film Critics winners

Best Picture: Up in the Air.

Best Foreign Language Film: Sin Nombre.

Best Documentary: The Cove.

Best Director: Jason Reitman, Up in the Air.

Best Actor: George Clooney, Up in the Air.

Best Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique, Precious.

Best Screenplay: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer.

Best Cinematography: Mauro Fiore, Avatar.

Best Animated Feature: Up.

Pauline Kael Breakout Award: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.

Colin Firth in A Single Man: British veteran named Best Actor for grieving gay professor portrayalColin Firth in A Single Man: The veteran British actor (Another Country, Valmont) plays a Los Angeles-based English professor grieving the death of his lover (Matthew Goode) in Tom Ford's A Single Man, based on Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel. A majority of U.S.-based film critics groups have chosen George Clooney as the year's Best Actor for Jason Reitman's socially conscious Up in the Air, but the Detroit Film Critics Society opted for Firth instead. Also in the A Single Man cast: Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Jon Kortajarena, Paulette Lamori, Ginnifer Goodwin, Teddy Sears, and Aaron Sanders.

Detroit Film Critics nominations: (Once again) few surprises

The Detroit Film Critics Society has announced its list of 2009 nominees.

Those in the running for Best Picture are Marc Webb's sleeper hit (500) Days of Summer, Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker, Quentin Tarantino's anti-Nazi fantasy Inglourious Basterds, Pete Docter's animated blockbuster Up, and Jason Reitman's socially conscious Up in the Air.

All of the aforementioned directors were also nominated.

Most of the other nominees were expected names as well – e.g.:

  • George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air.
  • Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia.
  • Colin Firth for A Single Man.
  • Carey Mulligan for An Education.
  • Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique for Precious.
  • Stanley Tucci – and to a lesser extent – Saoirse Ronan for The Lovely Bones.

There were, however, a few actual surprises, such as Sam Rockwell up for Best Actor for Duncan Jones' Moon; Star Trek and Zombieland up for Best Ensemble; and Woody Harrelson competing with himself in the Best Supporting Actor category for both Zombieland and The Messenger.

And here are a couple of eye-popping surprises: The Hangover for Best Ensemble and Alison Lohman in the Best Actress race for Drag Me to Hell.

See updated list – including winners – below. Colin Firth, Gabourey Sidibe, Pete Docter, and Up as Best Film were somewhat unusual choices; Christoph Waltz & Mo'Nique way less so.

Detroit Film Critics winners & nominations

Best Film
(500) Days of Summer.
The Hurt Locker.
Inglourious Basterds.
* Up.
Up in the Air.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.
* Pete Docter, Up.
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air.
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds.
Marc Webb, (500) Days of Summer.

Best Actor
George Clooney, Up in the Air.
Matt Damon, The Informant!.
* Colin Firth, A Single Man.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer.
Sam Rockwell, Moon.

Best Actress
Alison Lohman, Drag Me to Hell.
Carey Mulligan, An Education.
Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones.
* Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia.

Best Supporting Actor
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger.
Woody Harrelson, Zombieland.
Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles.
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones.
* Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.

Best Supporting Actress
Marion Cotillard, Nine.
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air.
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air.
Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds.
* Mo'Nique, Precious.

Best Ensemble
* The Hangover.
Inglourious Basterds.
Star Trek.

Breakthrough Performance
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air.
Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles.
Carey Mulligan, An Education.
Chris PineStar Trek.
* Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.


St. Louis Film Critics Association website.

Florida Film Critics Circle website.

Christoph Waltz Inglourious Basterds image: The Weinstein Company.

Mo'Nique Precious image: Lionsgate Films.

George Clooney Up in the Air image: Dale Robinette / Paramount Pictures.

Colin Firth A Single Man image: The Weinstein Company.

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