John Boyega and Oscar Isaac in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens scores last-minute Critics' Choice Award nom for Best Picture

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Dec 22, 2015, 5:07 PM EST

Disney chose to keep Star Wars: The Force Awakens so secret in the months leading up to release that virtually no one saw the film until the world premiere and press screenings that hit the week before release. But, despite the secrecy that prevented critics from actually seeing the movie early, it has still scored an impressive accolade.

The Broadcast Film Critics Association has announced that The Force Awakens has earned a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Picture — despite the fact that voting took place before anyone actually saw the movie. So, how does that work? The critics group felt the film was so important they held a special vote, after the fact, to see if it should be included.

As the BFCA notes, the film was not screened for voters in time for the initial nominations balloting, but after members actually saw the long-awaited Star Wars sequel, they decided to hold a special referendum to determine if it would have been nominated if the BFCA membership had been able to consider it. The answer was yes, so The Force Awakens made the cut by the skin of its teeth. 

The special referendum only applied to the Best Picture category, and this actually wasn't the first time a special vote has been held in this way. It is extremely rare, but the same thing happened back in 2000 to include Cast Away, so it’s not unprecedented. For a film this big, it makes sense they’d want to get it into the mix.

The winners of the 21st annual Critics’ Choice Awards will be announced Jan. 17 on A&E.
Do you think The Force Awakens is one of the best movies of the year?