The lines between television and film are becoming increasingly blurred, but for one night, the two entities came completely together to celebrate their excellence at the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards held Sunday in Santa Monica, Calif.

The stars came out early, including the likes of Taye Diggs, the host of the event for its second year in a row, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, Charlize Theron, Robert De Niro, Adam Driver, Eddie Murphy and more, walked the royal blue “red” carpet.

As a member of the Critics’ Choice Association, each year I vote for the best of the best, beginning with the nominations. While many of my personal choices don’t always make it to the final round of voting, it’s still a stellar list from which to choose the next “Best Actor,” “Best Actress in a Supporting Role,” or even “Best Picture.”

The stars aligned and the actors, directors, writers, producers and more, filled the Barker Hanger as they streamed into the bar area, many of whom stopped to chat about their latest works of art.

Walton Goggins whose film “The Three Christs” comes out this week, was elated that I had seen the movie and genuinely enjoyed chatting about the film’s topics of mental health and treatment. And Molly Shannon jumped for joy when I mentioned a favorite, “Wild Nights with Emily.” These moments as well as shaking hands with Danson and De Niro made it one of the most special events of the year.

This year, Kristen Powell, my plus one and I were seated near the front with the entire cast and crew from the new talk show, “The Kelly Clarkson Show” now on NBC Universal. With rapt attention, we all were glued to the engaging Diggs’ every word as he welcomed one of the first winners, Laura Dern, for her winning performance in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.”

The attention to Diggs quickly waned during commercial breaks, however, as the guests darted to others’ tables to grab a quick photo or sing an actor’s praise. Nicole Kidman made sure to give fellow actor Theron a gentle hug as photographers caught the moment. And then the announcer said, “Take your seats in 30 seconds…applause” until the next commercial break where we all scurried about.

The evening flew by faster than a shooting star as we watched not only winners come up on stage, but also the special guests who were acknowledged for their accomplishments. Murphy received the Lifetime Achievement Award and as he most humbly accepted the statuette, he shared with the audience that he would be forever grateful for the past 40 years in this industry.

Bell received the #SeeHer Award, the fourth of its kind in as many years, bringing the audience to their feet as she wisely relayed her own thoughts about what it is to be a woman. And the incredibly spry Norman Lear, now 97 years young, accepted an award for the live broadcasts of “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” which aired last year.

The biggest winner of the night in film was Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time …. In Hollywood,” receiving four awards; “Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt), and Best Production Design. “1917” was a close second, garnering three awards, Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Best Editing (Lee Smith), and Best Director, Sam Mendes, tying with the “Parasite Director” Bong Joon Ho.

In surveying the room, no one seemed overtly disappointed if they didn’t have a Critics’ Choice Award to bring home. In fact, the crowded space remained full of positive energy, excited chatter, and smiles for not just the camera, but for each other.

While the film industry is my focus, it is with a new-found interest that I will now be tuning in to watch “The Kelly Clarkson Show” on NBC; a show enriched by a supportive and down-to-earth team, many from Chicago and nearby Frankfort.

For a full list of winners, visit and for videos from the event, go to

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