below, Vanity Fair’s awards experts break down the biggest weekend of this awards season so far.
David Canfield: We divided and conquered this weekend, Rebecca, by splitting a slew of major awards events over what felt like the busiest three-day stretch of the season so far. The overstuffed nature of this mid-March blitz was partly outside of organizers’ and campaigners’ control—omicron forced many a delay for mass in-person gatherings—but also serendipitously timed as Oscar voting kicks off this week, just as everyone is getting maximum facetime. (so much steven spielberg!) Rebecca, you covered the Critics Choice Awards last night from inside the Fairmont Century Plaza, the final stop in a weekend that included the AFI Awards, DGA Awards, and BAFTAs. If you were a nominee at each one, you literally couldn’t attend them all—there wasn’t time! So I’m curious, as front-runners reestablished their dominance on Sunday, what was the mood inside the room and throughout the night, during this last push?
Rebecca Ford: The mood inside the room at the Critics Choice Awards was…crowded? Is that a mood? It was by far the most packed room I’ve been in this season, which definitely took some adjustment for those of us who have been pretty much on lockdown for a while. But once I got past that, I would have to say it felt pretty good to be back in a room where so many people were just excited to be celebrating film and TV. By the end of the night, it was very clear that the big winner was Jane Champion. She came into the evening already the center of attention thanks to her zinger of a response to Sam Elliott‘s criticism of her film, and then I spotted her receiving so many warm congratulations around the room from the likes of Kristen Stewart and Maggie Gyllenhaal, among others. After she won the directing prize and then Power of the Dog took the award for best film, it was just a huge huge night for Netflix’s front-runner. The streamer also threw the only afterparty at the hotel, which became the place to be. Even talent who weren’t involved with a Netflix project—like Venus and Serena Williams and winner Melanie Lynskey—we were in attendance. And, yes David, there was a dance party.
So Netflix definitely has a lot to celebrate. We’ve talked about how Apple TV+’s CODA had a nice surge recently, so I think Power definitely needed this sort of “moment” to call their own. But it didn’t come without its controversy. In her acceptance speech, Campion looked at the Williams sisters in the audience and said, “Serena and Venus, you’re such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys, like I have to.” In the room and at the party later, no one seemed to pay much attention to the comment, which was clearly an ad-libbed moment. But it soon came under massive backlash on social media, with many criticizing Campion for seemingly not acknowledging the incredible hurdles and adversity that the Williams sisters, as two Black women, have had to overcome to become not only the best in their sport in history but also moguls and icons in pop culture at large. As far as awards campaigns go, it’s the worst timing possible for the leader of the best-picture front-runner to have a misstep with voting opening this week. By midday Monday, she had issued an apology. David, what did you think of this latest drama?
Canfield: When we planned to write this on Sunday night, the frame was going to be that this was Campion’s weekend. I was at the AFI Awards on Friday, which is where she made her first awards-show appearance since testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, and she was a star from the moment she arrived, lapping up meet-and-greets with the Succession cast and a seemingly starstruck meryl streep (!). Then came the DGAs, her big night de ella, where she shared intimate moments with Kathryn Bigelow and Chloe Zhao before following in their footsteps as the third woman to win the feature-film prize there. Then on Sunday Power won BAFTA’s best film and director awards, before doing the same at Critics Choice. Couldn’t have gone much better, right? At.