Why the Critics' Choice Movie Awards Matter

[caption id="attachment_26013" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="Getty Images"]Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock makeout at the Critics Choice Awards[/caption]

The Critics' Choice Movie Awards take place Thursday, January 12, and for many fans that begs one question: So what?

Sure, everyone knows why the Oscars are cool and/or important, and even the Golden Globes have caught on with the public in recent years. But do we really need yet another awards show run by yet another group of insiders trying to tell us what's good and what isn't? Do we really need the Critics' Choice Movie Awards (aka the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards)?

Our answer: Yeah, we do -- and not just because it's the first major awards show of the year, or because truly spectacular events can unfold there (like in 2010, when Best Actress cowinners Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock shared a liplock) .

We could go on and on about the reasons why the Critics' Choice  Movie Awards are as or more important than, say, the People's Choice Awards or the Screen Actors Guild Awards. But we thought it would be easier to make our point if we contrast the CCMAs with the big dogs: the Oscars and the Golden Globes. Here's how we see it:

•    As much as we love the Oscars, one of the main flaws with the Academy is that often, the voters are too busy with their own hectic filming schedules to actually watch the movies they're voting on. The Broadcast Film Critics Association, on the other hand, is made up of professionals who are paid to watch every movie that comes along -- ensuring an informed voting base.

[caption id="attachment_26018" align="alignright" width="300" caption="VH1"]Hurt Locker Wins Best Picture at 2010 CCMAs[/caption]

•    As it happens, the Critics' Choice Movie Awards are historically the best indicator of success at the Oscars, far more so than the Golden Globes. Win a CCMA and you're now the likely favorite to take home an Oscar as well, which makes the Critics' Choice Awards a must-see for anyone making Oscar predictions. CCMA Best Picture winners for the last six years have been "The Social Network," "The Hurt Locker," "Slumdog Millionaire," "No Country for Old Men" and "The Departed." Four out of those five went on to win the Oscar. In the same span, the Globes' top prize has gone to more "questionable" films including "Babel" and "Atonement."

•    So why do the Oscar ballots line up so often with the CCMA winners? The answer is clear: Oscar voters may not have time to watch the movies, but they are certainly watching the Critics' Choice Awards  -- meaning the CCMAs is arguably the most influential award show of all.

•    Despite this fact, though, it's important to remember that critics aren't actually industry insiders; unlike Oscar voters, who may feel compelled to vote for friends in the business, critics are trained to be, well, critical. Having an impartial and educated view of movies is important to maintaining the integrity of film as an art form.

•    You may not know who the Oscar voters are, but you do know who movie critics are  -- and in many cases what their votes were -- because they get paid to state their opinions publicly every single day on TV, on the radio and online. That's the kind of transparency that is often missing from other awards shows. Don't agree? You know just who to send that angry email to.

•   The 250-member Broadcast Film Critics Association generally gets afforded more credibility than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the voting body for the Globes. That's owing mostly to some dubious choices made by the more "prominent" Globes, like last year's triple nomination for the critically drubbed "The Tourist."

•    But at the end of the day, the bottom line is this: We love awards shows, because we love talking about and celebrating movies. Any excuse to do that is good enough for us.

The Critics' Choice Movie Awards air live on VH1 at 8 pm this Thursday.

Originally published on January 10, 2011.