Meryl Streep & Carey Mulligan + George Clooney & Christoph Waltz: U.S. Critics' Favorites

Meryl Streep Julie and Julia
Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia.

Meryl Streep & Carey Mulligan: US Critics' Best Actresses

Only two actresses delivered great performances in 2009, at least as far as most US-based critics' groups were concerned: veteran Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia, and newcomer Carey Mulligan as a daring schoolgirl in 1960s London in An Education.

The exceptions were critics in Las Vegas, Detroit, and Florida, who actually noticed another newcomer, Gabourey Sidibe's abused illiterate pregnant teen in Precious. San Diego critics, who usually go their own merry way, picked Michelle Monaghan for Trucker, while Los Angeles critics, who sometimes dare to be different, picked Cesar winner Yolande Moreau for her talented but unbalanced artist in Séraphine.

Austin critics, for their part, picked Mélanie Laurent as best actress of the year for her Nazi hater in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

Of the aforementioned performers, only Streep, Mulligan, and Sidibe earned both SAG Award and Golden Globe nominations.

Catalina Saavedra started out well with a Gotham award for Breakthrough Performance of 2009 for The Maid, but that's all she's won thus far. An Oscar nomination at this point is unlikely, but not impossible. Academy members have to get those invaluable screeners, and they must be constantly reminded to watch them. You wouldn't believe it looking at most US critics' choices, but competition among actresses was pretty fierce in 2009.

The list below includes US-based critics groups (it'll be updated as more results are announced early this year), in addition to the Gotham, Satellite, and National Board of Review awards; plus Golden Globe, Spirit Award, and SAG nominations.

 

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia - Southeastern, Satellite (comedy/musical), San Francisco, Phoenix, Oklahoma, New York Online, New York, Boston, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Carey Mulligan, An Education - Washington, Utah, Toronto, St. Louis, Indiana, Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious - Las Vegas, Florida, Detroit, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, Spirit nominations

Yolande Moreau, Séraphine - Los Angeles, National Society of Film Critics, French Academy's Cesar (2008)

Michelle Monaghan, Trucker - San Diego

Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds - Austin

Catalina Saavedra, The Maid - Gotham award for Breakthrough Performance (the Gothams have no best actor/best actress categories)

Shohreh Aghdashloo, The Stoning of Soraya M. - Satellite (drama)

Helen Mirren, The Last Station - SAG, Golden Globes, Spirit nominations

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side - SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria - Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Meryl Streep, It's Complicated - Golden Globe nomination

Sandra Bullock, The Proposal - Golden Globe nomination

Marion Cotillard, Nine - Golden Globe nomination

Julia Roberts, Duplicity - Golden Globe nomination

George Clooney Tops US Critics' Awards

With ten wins from groups as diverse as the 75-year-old New York Film Critics Circle and the recently formed Indiana Film Journalists Association, George Clooney was the actor of choice of most US-based critics' groups. Clooney has received the best reviews of his career for his performance as a corporate-downsizing expert in Jason Reitman's timely Up in the Air, currently doing good business at the domestic box office.

Colin Firth, playing a grieving college professor following the death of his male lover in Tom Ford's A Single Man, comes in second place with four wins from US critics' groups, plus a Venice Film Festival victory.

Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker and Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart are the runners-up. All four actors have been nominated for SAG and the Critics' Choice Awards. Renner is the only who didn't land a Golden Globe nod.

US critics' groups usually choose the same movies, actors, etc. as the year's best, so there isn't much variety in the list below. Only one other actor won an award from American critics, Viggo Mortensen for The Road, from the Utah scribes. Also, Nicolas Cage was the Toronto winner for Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.

If you want to include the National Board of Review, then there's another one (tied with George Clooney): Morgan Freeman, for his Nelson Mandela in Clint Eastwood's box office disappointment Invictus.

Daniel Day-Lewis was a shoo-in for the Oscars until Nine opened. Critics have thus far ignored him, but he did get a Golden Globe in the best actor - comedy or musical category. Day-Lewis may also get a best actor Oscar nomination – Academy members have made surprising choices in the past – but he would be quite the dark horse at this point.

The list below includes US-based critics groups (it'll be updated as more results are announced early next year), in addition to the Gotham, Satellite, and National Board of Review awards; Golden Globe, Spirit Award, and SAG nominations; plus a handful of festival awards.

George Clooney, Up in the Air - National Board of Review (tie), Washington, Indiana, St. Louis, Southeastern, Phoenix, Oklahoma, New York, Houston, Florida, Dallas-Ft. Worth, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker - National Society of Film Critics, Satellite (drama), Las Vegas, Chicago, Boston, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Spirit (in 2008) nominations

Colin Firth, A Single Man - San Francisco, San Diego, Detroit, Austin, Venice Film Festival, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, Spirit nominations

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart - New York Online, Los Angeles, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, Spirit nominations

Morgan Freeman, Invictus - National Board of Review (tie), plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Viggo Mortensen, The Road - Utah, plus Critics Choice nomination

Nicolas Cage, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - Toronto

Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man - Satellite (comedy/musical), plus Golden Globe nomination

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer - Golden Globes, Spirit nominations

Tobey Maguire, Brothers - Golden Globe nomination

Matt Damon, The Informant! - Golden Globe nomination

Robert Downey Jr, Sherlock Holmes - Golden Globe nomination

Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine - Golden Globe nomination

Christoph Waltz: US Critics' Favorite Supporting Actor

If US critics found only two lead actresses to vote for in 2009 (Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan), they had an even tougher time finding a supporting actor. Or perhaps it was just his own thespian brilliance that made Christoph Waltz walk away with nearly every critics' award out there. With more than 90 film and TV productions to his credit, Waltz, 53, has finally been discovered by international audiences and critics thanks to his evil Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. All that and the best actor prize at Cannes 2009, too.

Christian McKay, playing Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles (the “Me” is Zac Efron), managed to top two lists: in San Francisco and Utah. Woody Harrelson was the choice of the National Board of Review voters. That's it.

Both Waltz and Harrelson are up for SAG Awards and Golden Globes. McKay was left out of both groups, though he is a nominee for the Critics Choice and Spirit awards.

The list below includes most US-based critics groups (it'll be updated as more results are announced early this year), in addition to the Gotham, Satellite, and National Board of Review awards; Golden Globe, Spirit Award, and SAG nominations; plus Waltz's Cannes win.

 

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds - Washington, National Society of Film Critics (tie), Toronto, St. Louis, Southeastern, Satellite, San Diego, Phoenix, Oklahoma, New York Online, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, Florida, Detroit, Indiana, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago, Boston, Austin, in addition to Cannes, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles - Utah, San Francisco, plus Critics Choice, Spirit nominations

Paul Schneider, Bright Star - National Society of Film Critics (tie)

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger - National Board of Review, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, Spirit nominations

Matt Damon, Invictus - SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Christopher Plummer, The Last Station - SAG, Golden Globe, Spirit nominations

Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones - SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Mo'Nique - US Critics' Top Supporting Actress/h3>

Like Christoph Waltz in the best supporting actor category, Mo'Nique – who plays a nasty mother in Lee Daniels' Precious – is by far the North American critics' top choice for best supporting actress of 2009: 17 wins and counting, in addition to awards at both the Sundance and Stockholm film festivals. Mo'Nique has also nabbed SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe, and Spirit award nominations.

Anna Kendrick, as George Clooney's assistant of sorts in Up in the Air, has come out on top in Toronto, Houston, and Austin, in addition to a National Board of Review win, while two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton, playing a war widow in The Messenger, won in San Diego. That's it.

Although Mo'Nique has been considered a top awards season contender since her win at Sundance early in 2009, it's a little surprising that critics have focused on one single performance when the 2009 supporting actress field offered an array of worthy talent, from Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air and Julianne Moore in A Single Man to Kathy Bates in Chéri and Kerry Fox in Bright Star.

The list below includes North American critics groups (it'll be updated as more results are announced in the next several weeks), in addition to the Satellite and National Board of Review awards; Golden Globe, Spirit Award, and SAG nominations; plus a couple of festival awards.

 

Mo'Nique, Precious - Washington, Utah, National Society of Film Critics, St. Louis, Southeastern, Satellite, San Francisco, Phoenix, Oklahoma, New York Online, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Florida, Detroit, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Indiana, Chicago, Boston, in addition to Sundance and Stockholm, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe, Spirit award nominations

Anna Kendrick, Up In The Air - National Board of Review, Toronto, Houston, Austin, plus SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Samantha Morton, The Messenger - San Diego, plus Critics Choice, Spirit nominations

Vera Farmiga, Up In The Air - SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Penélope Cruz, Nine - SAG, Golden Globe nominations

Julianne Moore, A Single Man - Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds - SAG nomination

Marion Cotillard, Nine - Critics Choice nomination

'Up in the Air' US Critics' Top Screenplay

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner's screenplay for Up in the Air is the #1 winner among North American critics groups, with Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds coming in second place.

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber's (500) Days of Summer, a boy meets girl tale in which things don't quite go as planned, has been a favorite as well. Other screenplays that have received more than one nod from critics are Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach's Fantastic Mr. Fox and Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man.

Although The Hurt Locker has been the critics' top film and Kathryn Bigelow their top director, Mark Boal's screenplay only topped the list of one critics' group: it won best original screenplay in Chicago. Clearly, critics see the Iraq War drama as a director's film.

There are quite a few titles listed below because some critics' groups have original and adapted screenplay categories. Included are North American critics' groups (the list will be updated as more results are announced in the next several weeks), in addition to the Satellite and National Board of Review awards; and Golden Globe and Spirit Award nominations.

 

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air - National Board of Review, Indiana, Toronto (tie), Southeastern, Phoenix, Oklahoma, Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago, Austin, plus Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds - Washington, Toronto (tie), San Francisco, San Diego, New York Online, Austin, plus Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Scott Neustadlter and Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer - St. Louis, Southeastern, Satellite, Oklahoma, Las Vegas, Florida, plus Critics Choice, Spirit nominations

Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man - National Board of Review, National Society of Film Critics, Washington, Los Angeles, Boston, plus Critics Choice nomination

Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, Fantastic Mr. Fox - Utah, San Francisco, San Diego, plus Critics Choice nomination

Pete Docter, Bob Paterson, Up - Phoenix, plus Critics Choice nomination

Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker - Chicago, plus Critics Choice, Golden Globe nominations

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche - In the Loop - New York

Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious - Satellite, plus Critics Choice nomination

Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, District 9 - Golden Globe nomination

Nancy Meyers, It's Complicated - Golden Globe nomination

Meryl Streep & Carey Mulligan + George Clooney & Christoph Waltz: U.S. Critics' Favorites © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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