Gold Derby nuggets: 'Precious' tops with African American critics | Tony No. 6 for Angela Lansbury? | 'The Climb' could top UK chart
• Scott Gaita reports that "Precious" was named best film of the year by the African-American Film Critics Assn. The film also won best director for Lee Daniels, supporting actress for Mo’Nique and screenplay for Geoffrey Fletcher (tying with Ron Clements, Rob Edwards and John Musker for "The Princess and the Frog.") However, Nicole Beharie was named best actress for "American Violet" over "Precious" star Gabby Sidibe. Morgan Freeman was selected best actor for "Invictus." THE CIRCUIT
• For Richard Rushfield, "Another slew of awards and nominations came in this weekend and the result is that this year's stagnant deathmarch of an Oscar race got a tiny bit shaken up, or at least it got a bit more confusing." As Richard writes, "for most of the season a troika of damaged contenders have been assumed to have a lock on nominations, with the assumption that one of them would take the top prize, despite the fact that each has big minuses. The top three have been 'Precious' (too heavy-handed) 'Up In the Air' (just not quite fantastic enough) and 'The Hurt Locker' (too obscure, unseen by the public)." For Richard, "the biggest news shaking up the race was not in the awards but in a flurry of reviews that emerged this weekend for James Cameron's long awaited 'Avatar.' While widely assumed to be a stink-bomb in the making (by us at least) the film has met with rapturous, over-the-top hosannas." GAWKER
• Steve Pond analyzes the 15 films in the running for the visual effects Oscar. This list will be culled by the same committee that created it to arrive at seven semi-finalists. At that point, as Steve explains, comes "the bakeoff"-- "It'll take place in late January, a week or two before the nominations are announced. Each of the seven shortlisted films will create a reel, no longer than 15 minutes, of impressive scenes from the film. The potential visual effects nominees will be allowed to briefly introduce the reel, and after it runs to take questions from the audience." THE ODDS
• Oscar champ Catherine Zeta-Jones ("Chicago") received mixed reviews for her Broadway debut Sunday night in the first rialto revival of Stephen Sondheim's 1973 best musical "A Little Night Music." Taking on the role of Desiree that won Glynis Johns the lead actress Tony for the original production, the Welsh songbird warbled "Send in the Clowns" among other tunes. However, critics said it was five-time Tony champ Angela Lansbury as Desiree's mother who stole the show. Ben Brantley of the New York Times called her "quite delicious" while Peter Marks of the Washington Post said Lansbury, "offers a marvelous, blunt-force comic performance, redolent of professional polish and a keen understanding of how to entertain." BBC
• Chris O'Donnell ("NCIS: Los Angeles") and Michelle Monaghan ("Trucker") will be getting up extra early Thursday morning to join SAG president -- and recent Emmy winner -- Ken Howard ("Grey Gardens") to announce nominees for the 16th annual awards bestowed by the actors' guild. These kudos in five film and eight TV categories will be handed out live in L.A. on Jan. 23 in an awardscast airing on both TBS and TNT.
• Pete Hammond considers the BFCA nominations in the context of the Oscar races. As Pete writes, "In its first 14 years, the Critics Choice Movie Awards has had one of the strongest correlations between its winners and those who go on to win Oscars. It correctly forecast the Academy's best picture in eight of the last 10 years. By contrast, the L.A. Film Critics last matched Oscar in 1993 with 'Schindler's List.' Perhaps the reason could be the BFCA, with 235 members, represents the largest number of critics of any voting group and they are spread out all over the country. It probably creates a greater diversity of opinion and one that more closely matches the more populist tastes of the Academy." NOTES ON A SEASON
• Thelma Adams celebrates the sexiness of sexagenarian Helen Mirren in "The Last Station." Raves Thelma, "Mirren, who won an Oscar playing Queen Elizabeth II in 2006's 'The Queen,' shows so many colors in this performance, exercises so many muscles bicep big and eyelid small, that it should be required watching in film schools. Not only is there not a misplaced movement, as she modulates from quiet contemplation to full-out china-smashing rages, there isn’t a moment that rings false, or stagey, or 'Hey, look at me, Oscar.'" IVILLAGE
• While "The Climb" -- sung by Miley Cyrus in "Hannah Montana: The Movie" -- may have been dropped from the Grammy race for best song written for a film or TV show, it is likely to reach the top of the charts in England this week. The tune was released as a single on Sunday by Joe McElderry, winner of "The X Factor." Nearly one-third of the country watched him win this British version of "American Idol" on Saturday night. Beginning with Leona Lewis and "A Moment Like This" four years ago, the "X Factor" champ has landed the coveted Christmas number one.
• Scott Feinberg crunches the numbers to determine how successful helmers in this year's Oscar race have been at getting actors and actresses under their direction nominated. "Invictus" director Clint Eastwood has steered five of his stars to Oscars. Two of the four performances that lost under his guidance were his own in best picture champs "Unforgiven" (1992) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004). AND THE WINNER IS
• Matthew Helmley reports that "'Outnumbered' walked away with three prizes at this year’s British Comedy Awards, including Best Sitcom and Best British Comedy of 2009. The show’s third award went to Ramona Marquez, one of the sitcom’s child stars, who picked up the gong for Best Female Comedy Newcomer. Other winners from the awards, which were held on Saturday and broadcast on ITV1, include 'Harry Hill’s TV Burp,' which won the award for Best Comedy Entertainment Programme, while Hill himself was named Best Comedy Entertainment Personality. Best Television Comedy Actor went to Simon Bird, from E4’s 'The Inbetweeners' while Best Television Comedy Actress went to Katherine Parkinson, from 'The IT Crowd.' 'Pulling won in the comedy drama section, and Michael McIntyre won in the stand-up category." THE STAGE
Photo credits: Mo'Nique in "Precious" (Lionsgate); Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury in "A Little Night Music" (Walter Kerr Theatre); Joe McElderry single cover (Sony Music UK)