For many in the room there was the distinctly uncomfortable feeling that it just may end "Here" as well.
And as befits 2007's crazy run for the gold, the vibe in the room at the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.'s Critics' Choice Awards on Monday night was a mixed bag.
The Hollywood contingent, which included big names like George Clooney, Brad and Angie, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn and others, looked like they were ready to party. But every time host D.L. Hughley brought up the subject of strikes, attendees in the room got noticeably uncomfortable.
Presenter Steve Zahn's amusing comment, "All of us actors hope the writers can return and that the critics would go on strike instead" didn't exactly slay them at the critics table, which included creator Matt Groening and three other WGA members who were also nominated as producers of the animated nominee, "The Simpsons Movie" (they later lost to "Ratatouille").
One writer/producer even apologized for causing "pain" but said the strike was a noble cause.
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Even Hughley commented on the "tough room" that apparently didn't come to laugh, although they did at one joke in the obligatory "In Memorium" tribute segment, which the BFCA annually turns into a satirical obit reel "mourning" the biggest box office bombs of the year. At the end of the piece one last casualty was listed: "The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards" followed by a question mark.
Nevertheless, the Broadcast Critics show (full disclosure: we are a member), airing for the first time on VH1, went off without a hitch proving that 13 (the number of years they have been handing out awards) is not an unlucky number.
In the lobby before the two-hour broadcast, BFCA president Joey Berlin said that they spent all weekend getting out the word that the Screen Actors Guild had OKd the show for its members and that there was no danger of a writers' picket line since the production entities were all non-signatories to the WGA.
Still, there was an alarming number of no-show winners, including "Sicko" documentary victor Michael Moore; "There Will Be Blood" composer Johnny Greenwood; actress victors Julie Christie and Amy Ryan; directing and best picture champs Joel and Ethan Coen; "Juno's" writer winner Diablo Cody ; and the songwriter performers from "Once," Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova .
The numerous no-shows became especially pronounced when "Juno" character actor J.K. Simmons sheepishly took the stage to accept "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee's" trophy for best movie for television since none of the producers could make it.
"I'm sorry, I was about No. 17 on the call sheet," he said as he thanked the critics.
In his acceptance for absent directing winners, the Coen brothers, Javier Bardem ignored them and used all his time to praise their fellow nominee (and his "Before Night Falls" director) Julian Schnabel, who was present.
Although lots of winners weren't there, for many it was apparently more a case of scheduling since no one claimed to cancel due to the strike. (Cody's absence was said to be over confusion about the strike but we also heard she was busy taking meetings.) In fact, Daniel Day-Lewis, who won best actor, actually made a Herculean effort just to make it in from the New York Film Critics fete the night before. He also made an appearance at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Saturday.
The biggest winner of the evening was unquestionably the newly retooled Miramax , which had a hand in seven of the night's big triumphs including "No Country For Old Men" with wins for picture, director and supporting actor for Javier Bardem; foreign language winner "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; "Gone Baby Gone," which won supporting actress forAmy Ryan; and "There Will Be Blood" (a co-production with Paramount Vantage) victorious in the lead actor race.
With all this love, it was appropriate that new Miramax topper Daniel Battsek accept the big prize at show's end from the entire BFCA membership present in the room.
It was a huge night for Miramax parent company Disney, which took the animated and family film trophies for "Ratatouille" and "Enchanted."
The broadcast critics -- who have been thought to be good harbingersof the ultimate Academy Award winners in recent years including last year's best picture, "The Departed," and all eight of the last four actor and actress Oscar champs -- clearly stood in lockstep with most other critics groups this year in anointing the Coen brothers' "No Country," Christie, Ryan and Day-Lewis, all now emerging front-runners in an awards season previously short on them.
Several heavily nominated, widely acclaimed films including "Into the Wild," with a leading seven nods, "Sweeney Todd" and "Atonement" with five apiece, and "Michael Clayton" with four, all went home empty-handed while lighter fare like "Juno" and "Hairspray" managed to grab two wins each.
What all this means going forward is anyone's guess, but the big achievement of this year's Critics' Choice bash was actually pulling off an awards ceremony in an increasingly hostile environment and getting stars to show up in the first place.
It's the little things that count in The Season of our discontent.