By Oliver Gettell
December 12, 2016 at 02:08 AM EST
Byron Cohen /FX

Courtney B. Vance has acquitted himself well. The People v. O.J. Simpson star won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series for his performance as magnetic defense attorney Johnnie Cochran.

“I’m just grateful. What a year,” he said while accepting the award at the 22nd annual ceremony Sunday in Los Angeles.

Portraying the smooth-talking lawyer in the FX miniseries, Vance beat out costar Cuba Gooding Jr., as well as Bryan Cranston in All the Way, Tom Hiddleston in The Night Manager, Tim Matheson in Killing Reagan, and Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock: The Abominable Bride.

The Critics’ Choice Award is Vance’s first, on his first nomination.

Although Vance, 56, has been active on stage and screen for three decades, Cochran represents his splashiest role to date. Earlier this year, he also won the equivalent Emmy Award.

In an interview with Variety in February, Vance said the most challenging aspect was figuring out a way into the role.

“Johnnie Cochran is an overwhelming kind of guy,” he said. “So I just began with his life. I just read as much I could, beginning with the Jeffrey Toobin book and found other books about him, what people said about him and what he said about himself. So then when I got into the arena, when I got into the cage of the courtroom, I had all the homework done and just let it flow, because he’s in me. I know him.”

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