SANTA MONICA, California — They came to walk the first major red carpet of the awards season, to catch up with friends, hope for a statue and maybe give a speech. But inevitably, the attendees of Monday's 13th annual Critics' Choice Awards found their thoughts returning to the news that Sunday's Golden Globes have been effectively canceled.
"I'm sad," admitted Amanda Bynes, whose "Hairspray" has three Globe nominations, but no ceremony during which to receive them. "It's the first time I've ever been in a movie that's been nominated for any type of Golden Globe. I was definitely excited to go."
The breaking news yielded a respectful mood best summed up by Angelina Jolie, who stood alongside husband Brad Pitt on the carpet. "I support the writers," she told MTV News.
Once indoors, the attendees, including George Clooney, Sean Penn and Katie Holmes, were temporarily able to put the Globes cancellation — and expectations of a similar situation for the Oscars — out of their minds. The night's big winner was the intensely dark drama "No Country for Old Men," which took home trophies for Best Picture, Best Director (Joel and Ethan Coen) and Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem). "Hairspray" was also one of the evening's top picks, as the musical update of John Waters' cult classic danced away with awards for Best Acting Ensemble and Best Young Actress for newcomer Nikki Blonsky.
"I've never been nominated for anything, ever," gushed Blonsky, who was discovered by director Adam Shankman while making ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, where she never even won employee of the month. "I didn't," she laughed. "But they gave me the keys to the store, if that means anything."
Once inside, the assembled stars sat at tables and shared laughs, much as they were scheduled to do Sunday at the Globes. But the presentation of awards, inevitably, was broken up by shout-outs to the striking writers.
"It would be great if the writers could return, and the critics [could] go on strike," Steve Zahn teased the night's voters.
"I decided, being a member in good standing, not to write a speech," grinned Don Cheadle, onstage to receive a lifetime-achievement award.
"They need to lock themselves in a room," George Clooney urged the writers and studio reps as he prepared to hand out an award, insisting he wouldn't cross any picket lines. "We want this to be finished."
The night's other winners included the old-school oil masterpiece "There Will Be Blood" (Best Composer, Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis); Julie Christie ("Away from Her") and Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone"), who earned Best Actress honors; and "Enchanted," which won Best Family Film. Often, the Critics' Choice Awards are indicative of the season's eventual Oscar winners, which would seem to spell good news for Christie, Ryan, Day-Lewis and the "No Country" gang, but might spoil the romance of "Atonement," which was nominated five times but left the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium without any hardware.
"I'm happy that people have been responding well to the film," Ellen Page, star of "Juno," said just moments before winning Best Comedy. "It is, of course, really exciting. And I'm really proud of it."
Unfortunately, it wasn't a night to be proud of Hollywood's slippery situation, as many of the stars received word of the Globes' transformation into a press conference just moments before they arrived.
"The whole thing feels wrong," Shankman sighed. "I have too many friends who worked too hard this year."
"It is what it is," Page cautioned, offering a counterpoint. "There are worse things in the world, and people are being hurt a lot worse than me because of the strike. I hope it gets resolved soon."
"Driving around today, it's so much more quiet," AnnaSophia Robb, the 14-year-old star of "Bridge to Terabithia," said of Hollywood's uneasy mood. "There are so many more reruns. I really want everyone to just come to an agreement."
Unless things change, the Critics' Choice Awards might be both the first and final full-fledged awards show of the season. With such urgency in mind, Hollywood's most unflappable rapper/actor strode down the red carpet offering advice for both sides of the dispute.
"Be like Snoop Dogg," urged the Doggfather, moments before he went in to present an award. "Write your own materials, and learn how to get paid without a strike."
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