With "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" leading the pack (13 bids each), plenty of films have reason to celebrate their nominations from the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, because it's one of the more reliable Oscar gauges around.
The best pic contenders are: "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips" (six nominations), "Dallas Buyers Club" (three), "Gravity" (10 noms), "Her" (six), "Inside Llewyn Davis" (four), "Nebraska" (six), "Saving Mr. Banks" (four), "12 Years a Slave" and "The Wolf of Wall Street" (six).
Academy Awards only had nine best-picture slots. From 2009-2011 (when Oscar had more than five contenders for best pic), the Film Critics Assn. saw nine, nine and seven out of their 10 proceed to Oscar noms. From 2003-2008, when Oscar had five slots, all five of them had been included in the critics' 10 choices.
While this is good news for today's nominees, there is still plenty of hope for the absentees. First, there's no logical reason for the correlation since there is no overlap in the voters between the two groups (unlike guild voting, where there IS some overlap with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences).
More important, this year is an oddity by all standards, since there are at least 15 movies that have a credible shot at an Oscar nomination. In the recent past when Oscar had five to 10 slots, it was pretty safe to predict a nomination for five or six hopefuls; the others were just possibilities. This year, there's no way to predict how closely Oscar will parallel today's top vote-getters, since the 2013 film slate offered "an embarrassment of riches," in the words of Broadcast Film Critics Assn. president Joey Berlin.
Also earning multiple noms were "The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug," with five; "August: Osage County," "Enough Said," "Iron Man 3" and "Rush," with four each.
As always, the org has some unique touches in its categories. For example, Christian Bale's performance in "Hustle" earned him three nominations: best actor, best actor in a comedy and as part of the film's ensemble nom. Sandra Bullock in "Gravity" has bids for best actress as well as best actress in an action movie; she's also up for her comedy perf in "The Heat." And James Gandolfini in "Enough Said" is cited as supporting actor overall, but best actor in a comedy.
"Gravity" is up for both film and sci-fi/horror film. Jennifer Lawrence is cited both for her supporting turn in "Hustle" and as action-film lead actress for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Scarlett Johansson was nommed as supporting actress for "Her," in which she is prominently heard but not seen.
With six noms, "The Wolf of Wall Street" made a strong showing, gaining momentum after being sidelined in other recent awards tallies because it was a late-year arrival with fewer screenings and screeners for voters. "Saving Mr. Banks" also rebounded, after getting a few isolated recognitions by other critics groups, and "Rush" continues to gain speed in the awards conversation. Proving that nominations make strange bedfellows, "Rush" and "Lone Survivor" are cited also in the action-film category, alongside such titles as "Catching Fire," "Iron Man 3" and "Star Trek Into Darkness."
The nominations are given out by the BFCA, which began in 1995 and includes about 300 reviewers from TV, radio and online in the U.S. and Canada. Additional news for omen-seeking kudos watchers: Oscar's eventually best-pic winner was in sync with the Broadcast Critics' selection in seven of the last 10 years.
The 19th annual rite will be held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica and telecast on the CW network, starting at 5 p.m. PST and airing live on the east coast. Aisha Tyler will host the show, produced by Bob Bain Prods. and Berlin Entertainment.
During the ceremony, a "Hottest Star" award will be announced, as voted on by the online audience of Defy Media's digital entertainment news brand, Clevver.
It takes place on the evening of Jan. 16 -- the same day that Oscars make a predawn nominations announcement and the day that Sundance opens.
A complete list of Critics Choice nominees:
Dallas Buyers Club
Critics Choice Awards: '12 Years,' 'American Hustle' Earn 13 Nominations Each
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