SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Ben Affleck may have been snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday morning when Oscar nominations were announced, but things were looking up Thursday night when he took home the Critics' Choice award for best director for Argo.
"I would like to thank the academy... I'm kidding, I'm kidding. This is the one that counts," said a grinning Affleck upon accepting the award.
Making his night even better: Argo -- which did receive a best picture Oscar nomination -- took home the Critics' Choice award for best picture.
The Critics' Choice Awards, always a reliable predictor for the Academy Awards, collided right into them on Thursday, with an especially early round of Oscar nominations taking place at the crack of dawn.
The result? A host of extra-happy stars walking the Critics' Choice red carpet with an Oscar glow, like Jessica Chastain, Daniel Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and Jennifer Lawrence.
"Talk to me in a month, but right now I'm raring to go," said Lawrence, who nabbed a best actress Oscar nomination, in high spirits on the red carpet. Lawrence went on to win the Critics' Choice award for both best actress in an action movie (The Hunger Games) and later best comedic actress (Silver Linings Playbook). "Seriously, I love critics," said Lawrence upon accepting her second award of the evening. She was one of a few stars who had such a successful year, they were double-teaming it.
New dad Matthew McConaughey was nominated for best supporting actor for Magic Mike, but was also there to support his indie comedy, Bernie.
McConaughey says there's something to be learned from the critics. "A couple of years ago I went through and had some help with my assistants. I said, 'Let's gather up every bad review that's ever been written about me.' And it was a thick book!" said McConaughey. "But it turned out to be at first hard to read, but then all of a sudden it became really funny. And I started to find some very constructive criticism in there."
This year, the 18th annual Critics' Choice Awards was hosted by Sam Rubin, and found a new physical home, at the Barker Hangar in chilly Santa Monica, as well as a new televised one, with a switch from VH1 to the CW.
The awards, chosen by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, did raise the question: Does this crop of stars cop to reading their own reviews?
"I wish I could say I didn't," said Les Miserables actor Eddie Remayne. But when it comes to theater reviews, "they do tend to affect how I keep performing...but on film you're more distanced from it, it's out of your hands."
"I do read my reviews," said director and Zero Dark Thirty actor Mark Duplass on the red carpet before the show. "I would love to be a big man and not need the validation, but I do. If it's good, I keep reading, and if it's bad, I stop." The reviews, however, don't influence his choices. "People tell me to stop using my shaky cameras, and I've been doing it for years."
Best actress nominee Marion Cotillard stays away from reading her reviews. "I'm much harder with myself than any critic," she said. "Trust me."
Naomi Watts, who said she was "wearing lots of good makeup" to keep her from looking tired after the early morning, tries to avoid reviews -- but sometimes it's inevitable. "Your agent or manager or publicist usually sends you some reviews, but they're usually the good ones," she said.
The Avengers writer Joss Whedon said he's selective when it comes to checking out what the critics have to say. "I don't read them all. Some of my friends call and say, 'Don't read this review or that review,' but I do think they're useful. Usually I can tell when they're just being mean or they're just pissing on the genre."
A genre that might one day include a movie based on the Black Widow, played in Avengers by Scarlett Johansson. "I'm for it. I want her to get a movie. I pitch it (all the time)." He said it's timely, especially after female protagonists have begun to dominate the box office, a la Hunger Games. "I think conversations are very different than they were last April. Prior to that the only references were Elektra and Catwoman."
Speaking of strong females, Hathaway took home one of the night's first awards: best supporting actress for her turn as Fantine in Les Miserables -- but did the people behind the statuettes make a mistake? "Thank you," said Hathaway upon accepting her award. "This is a bittersweet moment for me. I have this award but you spelled my name wrong. It is with an "e." ... Sorry. Don't mean to be gauche." A name spelling or not, it was the perfect cap to a day that began with an Oscar nomination for the 30-year-old actress. Co-star Redmayne said he had been in touch with his Les Mis co-stars Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, who snagged an Oscar nom for best actor. "I've been e-mailing with Annie and Hugh (Jackman) all day. We're on cloud nine. Their nominations were well-deserved. Hugh was such a great leader."
Judd Apatow, whose latest film, This is 40, was up for three awards, including best comedy. He took home the humbly named Louis XIII Genius Award, presented by Rebel Wilson. During his acceptance speech, Apatow thanked his wife, Leslie Mann, and said he's "a genius only if for figuring out how to get such a beautiful, brilliant woman to marry me."
Chastain won the Critics Choice for best actress for her role in Zero Dark Thirty. "Wow," said Chastain. "This is the first time I've ever talked to one of these things, and it's awesome." Chastain, who also received an Oscar nomination for the role, said on the red carpet that she was "really disappointed" that her Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow didn't receive a nomination for best director. "It's bittersweet for me, because I'm so excited to be nominated," said Chastain, who found out about her nomination on a flight from New York with Bigelow. "But this actually goes to show what an amazing person she is, because she's the one who came over and told me (I'd been nominated) and congratulated me. And when I found out, I said, 'Oh my gosh, you didn't get nominated.' I was shocked. And she kept bringing it back to me, 'No, no, no...let's celebrate you.' She's amazing."
Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for his starring role in Lincoln, which received 12 Oscar nominations on Thursday. "It means a lot to me," said Day-Lewis. "This has been one of the greatest unforeseen privileges of my life, doing this work."
The serious tone of his acceptance speech switched gears when he commented on all of the tuxedos in the porta-potties. "Maybe you could do the final category, if there is one, in there," joked Day-Lewis. "Because it really would be wonderful television."
Lawrence's Silver Linings Playbook co-star Bradley Cooper took home the award for best actor in a comedy. It was a role in which he also received an Oscar nomination. "It feels very fresh," Cooper told reporters on the red carpet. He was watching when the nominations were announced. "I thought I was going to get up and take my dog to the beach and go for a run and come back. And whatever happens, happens. And leave my phone in the truck. But that's not how it went down," he said, chuckling. "I got up, and waited and then watched the television. Woke my mom up, and my dog, and waited to watch it."
Capping off the evening for Cooper and Lawrence was Silver Linings Playbook taking home the award for best comedy movie. But even earlier in the night, before the movie had even won, Lawrence was grateful: "Having the entire movie, just having everyone recognized, and everyone here, it makes it so much better."