An awards show where the top two prizes — Favorite Movie and Favorite Movie Drama — went to Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of the Christ? Yep, it’s the People’s Choice Awards, where critical and political sentiment give way to good old-fashioned popularity. Hence, the ceremony (for which EW editors and readers helped choose the nominees) featured standing ovations for both Mel Gibson and an unusually dapper Michael Moore (who also received a few boos). The pair even met, uneventfully, backstage.
But the night wasn’t completely free of controversy. Tongues wagged that honorees were tipped off in advance (indeed, a large number of the night’s winners were there to accept, while the losers were mysteriously absent). Some speculated that the PCAs might face disciplinary action from the FCC. In 1968, the Golden Globes telecast was booted by NBC after the FCC accused the show of secretly notifying winners in advance (that’s not the case these days). But if you paid close attention to the end of the Jan. 9 show, you saw and heard a disclaimer stating that stars such as Ellen DeGeneres (Favorite Daytime Talk Show Host and Favorite Funny Female Star), Will Smith (Favorite Male Action Movie Star), and Renée Zellweger (Favorite Leading Lady) weren’t, in fact, as surprised as they seemed. One thing’s for sure, though: With winners like Moore and Gibson, no one will be calling this year’s People’s Choice Awards an accurate predictor of the Oscars.