Guillermo del Toro’s creature feature The Shape of Water triumphed at the Critics’ Choice awards, winning four prizes including best film and best director.
The drama, which stars Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaner who falls in love with a sea monster, was the big winner at a ceremony that honoured a number of women-centred stories, such as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale. Wonder Woman was named best action movie and that film’s star, Gal Gadot, accepted a special award for challenging gender stereotypes.
The industry’s ongoing sexual misconduct crisis impinged on Thursday’s ceremony, however, as James Franco won an acting award hours after the publication of a report detailing misconduct allegations against The Disaster Artist star and director. Franco did not attend, and his award was presented during a pre-telecast section broadcast only online.
Franco won a similar award at the Golden Globes earlier in the week, where many women dressed in black to protest against sexual harassment. More women dressed in colour on Thursday but an outspoken determination to end gender discrimination remained just as fierce.
“I want to share this award with all the women and men who stand for what’s right, standing for those who can’t stand or speak for themselves,” Gadot said as she accepted the second annual #SeeHer award. “My promise to you is: I will never be silenced. We will continue to band together to make strides, uniting for equality.”
Del Toro echoed those sentiments, closing the ceremony by shouting that he has always believed in the equality of women. “Let me tell you one thing, if you don’t do that, you don’t know what you’re missing,” he said.
Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand cemented their status as Oscar favourites for best actor and actress with victories at the awards, Oldman winning for his turn in Darkest Hour and McDormand for her performance in Three Billboards, which was also rewarded with a supporting actor prize for Sam Rockwell and a best acting ensemble award.
Other winners of multiple prizes included I, Tonya, Get Out and Pixar’s Coco. I, Tonya brought acting accolades for star Margot Robbie and supporting actress Allison Janney. Get Out was named best sci-fi or horror film, and writer-director Jordan Peele claimed original screenplay honours, while Coco won animated feature and original song for Remember Me.
In the TV portion of the ceremony, Big Little Lies received four awards: best limited series, as well as acting prizes for Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard and Laura Dern. Kidman thanked the entertainment community, “who show up to make really fantastic films and TV and let us do what we love”.
“I love being an actor,” she added. “Thank you for letting me do it all the way through to this age and beyond.”
Stories about women also won in TV comedy categories. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel was named best comedy series, while star Rachel Brosnahan won best actress in a comedy.
“Let’s not lose focus,” said Brosnahan as she accepted her award, in reference to the Time’s Up initiative. “Let’s keep this going.”
Olivia Munn hosted the ceremony, held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. The actor, who has spoken publicly about her own experiences with sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry, led the audience in a toast. Joined by actor Niecy Nash, they raised a glass “to all the good guys in Hollywood”, who held meetings in conference rooms rather than hotel rooms.
“Congratulations for doing what you’re supposed to do!” Nash said.