The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced this week that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be the 11th nomination for Best Picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards. The film didn’t screen early enough for consideration, but according to press releases, after voters saw the film, a “special referendum” was held to determine if it should be included. In the days following the formal nomination, members of the BFCA are criticizing the organization for attempting to stir up higher TV ratings, as two voters publicly resign over the action.
Eric Melin, now a former BFCA voter, sent in his resignation email and subsequently posted it to his website Scene-Stealers.com. He wrote in part:
In order for a professional critics body to have integrity, nomination and voting guidelines must be consistent with the way they were laid out at the beginning of the process. Nominating “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for Best Picture does not follow those guidelines, and re-ignites a loophole for this kind of thing to happen every year. (Apparently you did this in 2000 for “Cast Away” before I was a member.) Unlike the other nominations, this was not decided upon using a weighted ballot of all possibilities, and it smells like a desperate ploy to get better TV ratings.
Scott Renshaw from Salt Lake City Weekly similarly posted his email to Twitter:
This decision has been a long time coming, but was made inevitable by the decision to change the voting process to allow Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens to be included as a nominee after the official nominating deadline. Irrespective of any precedent that may be invoked (specifically, the 2000 decision to include Cast Away, pre-dating my membership), it is obvious to me that this decision is based more on its marketing value than on making sure that the best films are included. If that were the case, the entire nomination process would have been opened up again to allow The Force Awakens to be considered in all categories.
As Indiewire pointed out, other (still current) members spoke out on social media to criticize the action:
BFCA humiliates itself by adding Star Wars after the vote. So much for pretending to have integrity.
— David Poland (@DavidPoland) December 22, 2015
Looks like many BFCA members are choosing the right answer…#NO to the “Star Wars” awards do-over. Very impressed.
— Clayton Davis (@AwardsCircuit) December 21, 2015
I’m not happy about it, but the BFCA has now added Star Wars: The Force Awakens to our Best Picture nominees. — Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) December 22, 2015
For the record, I do not know a single fellow BFCA member who petitioned Board of Directors to add ‘Star Wars’ as 11th Best Picture nominee — Mike Sampson (@mjsamps) December 18, 2015
As a ratings ploy has been cited, let’s look at the ratings. The 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards was televised on A&E for the first time in 2015 and received 522,000 total views. This is nearly half of the 1 million views the ceremony garnered when it aired on The CW the previous year, although it’s important to remember that one is from a broadcast network and the other is a cable channel. In 2014, The Hollywood Reporter noted a slight drop in the award show’s key demo and yet a similarly slight rise in total viewers.
The Force Awakens, meanwhile, has been dominating the box office and is among the shortlist for Best Visual Effects for the 2016 Oscars, the final nominations for which will be announced on January 14th.
The Critics’ Choice Awards will be televised on A&E, Lifetime, and LMN on January 17th at 8 p.m. EST as hosted by T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley).
For more of our coverage of all things Star Wars: The Force Awakens, take a look at some of the links below:
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Breaks $300 Million in the U.S. and ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ Record
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: Who Are Rey’s Parents?
- Lupita Nyong’o on ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and Whether Han Shot First
- Watch J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan Discuss Making ‘The Force Awakens’ for 32 Minutes
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: The Many Problems with Maz Kanata
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: J.J. Abrams Explains That Deleted Scene with Maz and the Lightsaber