With six nominations apiece going to Up In The Air and Where The Wild Things Are, it was Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker that pulled off a 5-for-5 sweep of The Chicago Film Critics Association 22nd Annual Awards. A winner for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Jeremy Renner), Original Screenplay (Mark Boal) and Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd), the Iraq war thriller once again laid claim to the film with the most victories during this awards season. From critic's groups not mutually exclusive to one type of film or one type of film critic/journalist, The Hurt Locker is up 32 awards to Inglourious Basterds' 30 and Up In The Air's 29.
Quentin Tarantino's film picked up another in the long stretch of victories by Christoph Waltz for Supporting Actor. While Up In The Air's two supporting ladies, Vera Farmiga & Anna Kendrick, were beat out once again by Mo'Nique Dearest for Precious, it did win the Adapted Screenplay award for Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner. Best Actress went to An Education's Carey Mulligan who also won Most Promising Performer from the group. Most Promising Filmmaker went to Neill Blomkamp for his well-received science fiction actioner, District 9. Pixar's Up won for Best Animated Feature and Michael Giacchino's Score. Anvil!: The Story Of Anvil won Best Documentary and Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon was named Best Foreign Film.
Chicago's victories size up nicely for potential Oscar nominations. Five of their last six choices for Best Picture have been nominated and four of those five went on to win the big prize. Consequently also five of their last six choices for Director and Supporting Actor have been nominated, with all five of those directors winning the Oscar. Going down the line 6 of the last 7 Best Actors & Actresses have been nominated and 8 of the last 10 Supporting Actresses. Since the CFCA split the Screenplay category in 2006, all six of their winners have gone on to nominations with the adaptations winning the Oscar each time out. Good news for Reitman & Turner.
Los Angeles, New York and Chicago critics all agreed on their choices for Best Picture and Director for the first time since the 1997 trifecta of L.A. Confidential and Curtis Hanson. This is only the third time in their mutual existence that the three groups have gone across the board on those two categories. The first was GoodFellas and Martin Scorsese in 1990. And it is only the sixth time that the Big Three markets have agreed on Best Picture - GoodFellas (1990), Schindler's List (1993), L.A. Confidential (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Sideways (2004). As you might recall only one of those films went on to win the Oscar. Perhaps the only piece of bad news to come out of this announcement for The Hurt Locker.
The critic groups will still be coming out with awards into the new year, at which time focus will ship to the all-important Guild awards. The Producers announce on Jan. 5, the Directors unveil their nominees on Jan. 7 and the Writers follow suit on Jan. 11. See the updated awards tally and rankings.