BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 honored 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.
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 theaters Nov. 25), a film she says “will show people the inherent goodness in all of us.”
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 honored, so thank you very much.”
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.