Tonight's king of the world turned out to be a queen. Several queens, in fact.
James Cameron's Avatar went home with a full sack of technical honors, but Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq war stunner The Hurt Locker was named Best Picture at the 15th Annual Critics' Choice Awards, where the big winners tend to match up with the picks come Oscar night more often than not.
Not only did the film take its umpteenth top prize of the season so far, but Bigelow was deemed Best Director, the first time a female auteur has won the prize.
"As every filmmaker knows, nobody stands here alone," the director said upon accepting her individual honor. Calling her cast and crew "exceptional," she continued, "This was a punishing shoot but this is such an amazing honor...The recognition should also go to the men and women who are in the field to this day."
"Bullshit!" the Blind Side star proclaimed when she reached the podium a few moments after Streep had given her acceptance speech following her win for Julie & Julia.
Then she kissed the ever-gracious (and refreshingly unlacquered) Streep full on the mouth.
"I did not prepare," Bullock began. "This is an honor. It is a great honor to be in the company of the extraordinary women I was so lucky to be nominated with, because this one here," pointing to Meryl, "inspired me to do everything better. For the critics, I bet you never saw this coming. You might never again."
And hers may not have even been the best speech of the night!
"Wow, this feels good!" Jeff Bridges, a Best Actor winner for playing a washed-up country singer who finds love in Crazy Heart, said as he launched into an acceptance speech that would have made The Dude proud.
From when he inquired whether anyone would be wielding one of those huge yank-off-the-stage canes to when he thanked Chris Cooper instead of screenwriter Scott Cooper ("Well, he's a good actor, you know...Sorry, Scott"), the veteran actor completely charmed with his viscerally appreciative thank you to the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which doles out the Critics' Choice awards.
And how long has it been since Quentin Tarantino was given the opportunity to make a nice, long speech? Too long!
"You get a screenplay award, there’s really only one group of people to thank. And that’s the actors, who actually took it from the printed page and put it up on the screen," said the CCA winner for Best Original Screenplay for Inglourious Basterds, which also netted said actors a Best Ensemble win, the night's first award.
"And these guys know, my material is not easy. It’ s hard. I can not have dumb actors do my dialogue. I’ve tried it and it was a disaster. So I want to thank my lovely actors for taking my words and singing my songs, and doing my poetry. God bless you."
Oh, Quentin. So humble, as always.
But not everyone can be Best Young Actress winner Saoirse Ronan (give her time, she's young), who charmed and made people cry playing a murdered teen in The Lovely Bones; Best Supporting Actress winner Mo'nique, who is likely to be the Jennifer Hudson of 2010 for her gutwrenching role as the mother of an abused teen in Precious; and Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, one of the nondumb actors who helped bring Inglourious Basterds to life as fiendish Jew-hunter Hans Landa.
"When Quentin invited me to join the cast, my choice assumed a completely different dimension. Did I want to be an actor or not?" the Austrian actor said in accepting his trophy. "This Critics' Choice Award is an approval of all the choices prior to this."
Another highlight of the night was the tribute to late director John Hughes, chronicler of teen angst circa 1980-something extrordinaire.
John Krasinski and Amy Poehler, clad as promgoers Duckie and Andie from Pretty in Pink, kicked things off, with Krasinski introducing himself as "Abe Froman, sausage king of Chicago." Following a montage of clips, Death Cab for Cutie performed The Breakfast Club classic "Don't You (Forget About Me)."
Here's the complete list of winners from the 15th Annual Critics' Choice Awards:
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Best Actress: (tie) Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia, and Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Best Young Actor/Actress: Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones
Best Acting Ensemble: Inglourious Basterds
Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Best Cinematography: Avatar
Best Art Direction: Avatar
Best Editing: Avatar
Best Costume Design: The Young Victoria
Best Makeup: District 9
Best Visual Effects: Avatar
Best Sound: Avatar
Best Animated Feature: Up
Best Action Movie: Avatar
Best Comedy: The Hangover
Best Picture Made for Television: Grey Gardens
Best Foreign Language Film: Broken Embraces
Best Documentary: The Cove
Best Song: "The Weary Kind," T Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham (Crazy Heart)
Best Score: Up
(Originally published Jan. 15, 2010, at 8:15 p.m. PT)
What a night for celebs! There will be even more at Sunday's Golden Globes, though!