In year-end awards voting, film critics have snubbed the year’s two most popular-yet-divisive movies, Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of the Christ, and both films were ruled ineligible for top Golden Globes. Still, the populist favorites got their due at Sunday’s People’s Choice Awards, where Fahrenheit was named Favorite Motion Picture and Passion was named Favorite Drama Motion Picture.
This year marked the first time in the awards’ three-decade history that the prizes were picked via Internet voting — some 21 million votes were counted — instead of a Gallup poll (nominees were picked by a poll of readers of EW, also participating for the first time). It was also the first year, then, that it was practical for anyone to campaign actively for a People’s Choice Award. That’s what Michael Moore did on his website and in public appearances over the last month. When it paid off with Fahrenheit‘s victory, Moore accepted in a speech that had little of the rudeness or anti-Bush rancor of his notorious Oscar speech two years ago. ”This country is still all of ours, not right or left or Democrat or Republican,” he said. Dedicating his prize to U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq, he said, ”We live in a great country and we all love our country very much and I am so amazed that you did this — the people of America — that you voted for this film. I’m honored and gratified.”
Accepting for Passion, director Mel Gibson expressed similar sentiments, crediting ordinary people for making a blockbuster out of a film that the major studios wouldn’t touch and that he had financed out of his own pocket. ”I depended on you and you were there,” he said. ”If it wasn’t for you guys, we would have been dead in the water.”
Still, the movie that grabbed the most trophies was the one that had grabbed the most green at the box office: green ogre sequel Shrek 2, which earned prizes for Favorite Comedy Motion Picture, Favorite Animated Motion Picture, Favorite Sequel, Favorite Animated Movie Star (Eddie Murphy’s Donkey), and Favorite Movie Villain (Jennifer Saunders’ Fairy Godmother).
Perennial People’s Choice winner Julia Roberts picked up two more, for Favorite Female Movie Star and Favorite Smile (an award sponsored by Crest toothpaste). Among the 38 prizes awarded, other multiple winners came in the TV and music categories. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation won Favorite Television Drama Series and Favorite Female Television Star (for Marg Helgenberger). Joey claimed Favorite New Television Comedy Series and Favorite Male Television Star (Matt LeBlanc). Usher won Favorite Male Singer and Favorite Combined Forces (for his collaboration with Lil Jon and Ludacris on ”Yeah!”). The awards aired live on CBS from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and were hosted by the stars of the network’s new sitcom Listen Up, Jason Alexander and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.