Awards-season campaigning underway at Hollywood Film Awards

Much like the American presidential race, it's never too early to start campaigning for Hollywood's awards season, and stars got an early chance Sunday at the Hollywood Film Awards.

'Tonight is actually rigged...Literally, none of this is real,' quips host James Corden

Late night's James Corden hosted the star-studded 20th annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Sunday night. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)

Much like the American presidential race, it's never too early to start campaigning for Hollywood's awards season, and stars got an early chance Sunday at the Hollywood Film Awards.

The show has been criticized for its nebulous selection process and odd tradition of recognizing films before they're released, but the untelevised ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel still drew an A-list crowd of apparent awards-season hopefuls.

"Tonight is actually rigged," host James Corden told the audience. "Literally, none of this is real."

Matthew McConaughey accepts the Hollywood ensemble award on behalf of the cast of Gold. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)

That didn't stop such actors as Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman and Matthew McConaughey from showing up to accept trophies. There were no nominees and winners were announced in advance.

Other stars appearing Sunday included Julianne Moore, Kate Hudson, Justin Timberlake, Jonah Hill, Anna Kendrick, Andrew Garfield, Warren Beatty, Mel Gibson and Lenny Kravitz.

Tom Hanks, left, and Clint Eastwood attend the press room at the 2016 Hollywood Film Awards held at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/Associated Press)

Tuesday's election was a recurring topic throughout the night. Corden set the tone with several political quips in his opening monologue.

"This year they brought back Star Wars with a female lead. They rebooted Ghostbusters with a female cast. And I pray to God they reboot the Clinton presidency with a female lead," the CBS late night host said.

Robert De Niro openly urged support for Hillary Clinton on stage. "We have the opportunity to prevent a comedy from turning into a tragedy," he said.

Leslie Mann shares a laugh with Robert De Niro, who got political onstage while accepting a trophy at the Hollywood Film Awards. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/Associated Press)

Accepting an award for his documentary Before the Flood, DiCaprio talked about climate change as "an urgent threat to life on earth as we know it." Director Fisher Stevens said the film is available free through Election Day.

Founded by businessman Carlos de Abreu (whom De Niro awkwardly name-dropped Sunday during a pre-written speech), the Hollywood Film Awards joined with dick clark productions in 2014, when the show was broadcast on CBS.

Susan Sarandon, left, presented an award to Natalie Portman for her turn in the film festival favourite Jackie. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/Associated Press)

The program is no longer televised, but it's still scripted, with most stars reading from a prompter.

"Even though I didn't write that, I absolutely agree with that," Susan Sarandon said after reading heartfelt words about Portman, who was honoured for her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy in Jackie (opening Dec. 2).

Casey Affleck made fun of the stiff script he was given to introduce Manchester By the Sea screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan.

"I didn't write this," Affleck said.

Naomie Harris was recognized for her performances in Moonlight and Collateral Beauty. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)

Artists accepting awards, though, did do so sincerely. Naomie Harris talked about having to drop her own judgments to play a drug-addicted mom in Moonlight.

"I am forever changed as a result of this journey," she said.

Kidman received the supporting actress prize for Lion (in theatres Nov. 25), a film she says "will show people the inherent goodness in all of us."

Nicole Kidman poses with her Lion co-star Dev Patel. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/Associated Press)

Eddie Murphy received the career achievement award. He was greeted with a standing ovation, which he said "warms the cockles of one's heart on a Sunday."

"This is a very, very, very chatty group. I've never heard such long speeches ever," Murphy said, noting that he wasn't using a prompter.

"I really wish I had a chatty, chatty, chatty speech for you," he said. "I know everybody's been sitting here for a while. But I'm very moved and very honoured, so thank you very much."

Eddie Murphy mugs for photographers after receiving the night's career achievement award. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/Associated Press)

Corden closed out the night by saying: "We're out of fake awards to give out."

As for the rest of Hollywood's awards season, nominations for the Golden Globe Awards will be announced Dec. 12. The Screen Actors Guild reveals its awards nominees Dec. 14 and Academy Awards nominees will be announced Jan. 24, 2017.

Winners of the Hollywood Film Awards:

  • Career achievement: Eddie Murphy.
  • Actor: Tom Hanks, Sully.
  • Supporting actor: Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins.
  • Actress: Natalie Portman, Jackie.
  • Supporting actress: Nicole Kidman, Lion.
  • Comedy: Robert De Niro, The Comedian.
  • Breakout performance: Naomie Harris, Collateral Beauty and Moonlight.
  • New Hollywood: Lily Collins, Rules Don't Apply.
  • Spotlight: Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures.
  • Ensemble: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold.
  • Song: Can't Fight the Feeling, Justin Timberlake.
  • Blockbuster: The Jungle Book.
  • Animation: Zootopia.
  • Documentary: Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio, Fisher Stevens.
  • Director: Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge.
  • Breakthrough director: Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals.
  • Producer: Marc Platt, La La LandBilly Lynn's Long Halftime WalkThe Girl on the Train.
  • Screenwriter: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By the Sea.
  • Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land.
  • Film composer: Mychael Danna, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and Storks.
  • Editor: John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge.
  • Visual effects: Stephane Ceretti and Richard Bluff, Doctor Strange.
  • Sound: Christopher Boyes and Frank Eulner, The Jungle Book.
  • Costume design: Albert Wolsky, Rules Don't Apply.
  • Makeup & hair styling: Shane Thomas, Angela Conte, Bec Taylor, Noriko Watanabe, Hacksaw Ridge.
  • Production design: Wynn Thomas, Hidden Figures.