The 23rd annual Critics’ Choice Awards were held last week, once again at Santa Monica, Calif. This year marks my third year as a Broadcast Film Critics Society member and Choice award voter. I was joined Thursday night by more than 200 TV and radio film critics (including four others from Houston) for a night honoring the best of film. It’s the American Press version of the Golden Globes, complete with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres, as nominees like Allison Janney mingle with celebrities like Chris Hemsworth, invited by critics who, at least for their current roles, liked what they had to offer.

2017 was a landmark year for film as we saw female-led films like “Lady Bird,” which sadly took home no awards at any event, or “Wonder Woman” (winner of best action film) rise to the top of conversation. The critics bestowed a special award, the SeeHer Award to Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot. Viola Davis was last year’s recipient. There were several moments that made this particular award show special, including young starlet Brooklyn Prince crying her eyes out when she won best younger performer for her role in “The Florida Project,” a best picture nominee.

Actress Olivia Munn had the hosting honors this year and with guests like Angelina Jolie (nominated for best foreign language film), Nicole Kidman (from the television side of the awards) and Jessica Chastain (nominee for “Molly’s Game”) it was one of the more star-studded gatherings I have attended.

I had a chance to speak to best actress (comedy) winner Margot Robbie about her performance in “I Tonya.” She didn’t win best actress (though she was my vote), losing out to Frances McDormand for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri,” but Robbie (also a producer on the film) said, “I couldn’t ask for any other honor.”

Her co-star Allison Janney repeated her Golden Globes victory with a Critics Choice award for best supporting actress, joking that her fellow nominees were all so good that the critics must have picked a winner based on height. 6 feet tall and always the performer, Janney was hilariously eating victory cake in the background during my conversation with Robbie.

While the famous faces in the room were descended upon by relentlessly eager critics (glorified fans) to pose for photos during commercial breaks, the energy in the room was positive and all the nominees seemed happy to have their work recognized. My favorite film of the year, “Call Me By You Name” was nominated 8 times, including best picture, and took home the award for adapted screenplay. Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino led the standing ovation when Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”) won for best director. “Just being here and having people see our film means we have won,” he told me.

“Call Me By Your Name’s” best actor nominee Timothee Chalamet lit up when he saw me sporting my peach emoji pin, my hommage to the film. We posed for photographs and he remarked, “I want that pin,” which I later gave him after he lost the best actor award to Gary Oldman for his role as Sir Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” Oldman sent out a signed photo his wife took from his first days on set of the film to voters only days before voting ended saying, “see you next week at the show.”

The Critics’ Choice Awards is just one stop on the march to the Academy Awards later this year. More often than not, it is the Critics’ Choice Awards winners that mirror the Oscar winners more than any other film awards. You can find more of my Critics’ Choice Awards coverage and film reviews by following me on social media @TexasArtFilm.

Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. Visit texasartfilm.com.

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