Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle"
Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle"

Last year "Argo" began its drumbeat of wins with the Critics Choice Movie Awards. "I want to thank the Academy," quipped Ben Affleck as he accepted his prize on the evening he was snubbed by the Academy director's branch. 

The Critics Choice Movie Awards, voted on by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), is a consistent bellwether for the Academy Awards. That may be because the BFCA (of which I am a member) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, with more than 280 voting television, radio and online critics. It's a larger sampling than the Hollywood Foreign Press, and like Academy and Guild voters, the voters are experienced older professionals. 

This year's Critics' Choice nominees are led by critics' faves “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle,” with thirteen nominations each. “12 Years a Slave” nabbed Best Picture, Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Best Supporting Actor for Michael Fassbender, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, Best Acting Ensemble, Best Director for Steve McQueen, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Best Score for Hans Zimmer.

“American Hustle” landed Best Picture, Best Actor for Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actor for Bradley Cooper, Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Lawrence, Best Acting Ensemble, Best Director for David O. Russell, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Comedy, Best Actor in a Comedy for Christian Bale, and Best Actress in a Comedy for Amy Adams. 

Like last year, Jennifer Lawrence also has multiple acting nominations: Best Supporting Actress in “American Hustle” and Best Actress in an Action Movie for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Christian Bale and James Gandolfini both also have multiple acting nominations.

“Gravity” grabbed ten nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress for Sandra Bullock, Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Actress in An Action Movie for Sandra Bullock, Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie and Best Score. (Notably, it missed a screenwriting nod.) Bullock also scored nominations (along with co-star Melissa McCarthy) for Best Actress in a comedy for "The Heat," and Best Actress in an Action Movie for "Gravity."

Rounding out the ten best picture nominations are “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Her,” “Captain Phillips,” and “Nebraska” with six nominations apiece, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” with five and "Dallas Buyers Club" with three. 

Not landing Best Picture slots, Peter Jackson's “The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug” earned five (technical) nominations, while “August: Osage County,” “Enough Said,” “Iron Man 3,” and “Rush” received four, and "Blue Jasmine" got two, including Best Actress Cate Blanchett and Woody Allen for Best Original Screenplay. 

The Weinstein Co.'s "August: Osage County" and "The Butler" landed in the Best Acting ensemble category, while "Philomena" earned two nods for Best Actress Judi Dench and Adapted Screenplay for Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope. "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" had to settle for a nomination for its U2 Song, "Ordinary Love."

There are six slots in each acting category: even so "The Butler" landed only one acting nod: Oprah Winfrey for Supporting Actress. "All is Lost" scored one slot, for New York Film Critics winner and Golden Globes nominee Robert Redford. Things are looking up for Brie Larson, Best Actress nominee for "Short Term 12," which has been building momentum, as well as Scarlett Johansson Best Actress nominee for her voice performance in "Her."

Like last year, the winners will be announced on the evening after the Oscar nominations are announced--on Thursday, January 16, 2014-- and broadcast live on The CW Network at 8:00 PM ET/PT. This year's show, hosted by Aisha Tyler from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif., arrives after the Golden Globes (January 12) and before the Screen Actors Guild Awards (January 18).