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Wednesday September 19th, 2018 2:46PM

James Franco an early winner at Critics' Choice Awards

By The Associated Press
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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — James Franco, who had new sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him earlier in the day, was among the early winners at the Critics' Choice Awards on Thursday, but the actor wasn't on hand to accept his award.

Franco won best actor in a comedy film for his starring turn in "The Disaster Artist" at the end of an hourlong pre-telecast during which a dozen awards were presented.

The film wasn't deemed the best comedy, though: That award went to "The Big Sick."" once the telecast began on the CW network.

Actress Olivia Munn is hosting the gala at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, where a cast of celebrity presenters are announcing film and TV critics' picks for the best work of 2017.

"The Handmaid's Tale" was a triple winner, winning best drama series and acting awards for star Elizabeth Moss and supporting actress Ann Dowd. "Big Little Lies" also claimed three awards: acting honors for Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard and Laura Dern.

Kidman thanked the entertainment community "who show up to make really fantastic films and TV and let us do what we love."

"I love being an actor," said the 50-year-old Oscar winner. "Thank you for letting me do it all the way through to this age and beyond."

"I, Tonya" also won acting double acting honors for star Margot Robbie and supporting actress Allison Janney. Other double winners included "Get Out," ''Coco" and "Big Little Lies," which all claimed awards during the pre-telecast.

"Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins presented star Gal Gadot with the second annual #SeeHer award, which recognizes an individual for challenging gender stereotypes.

Gadot said she is sharing the award "with all the women and men who stand for what's right, standing for those who can't stand or speak for themselves."

"My promise to you is: I will never be silenced," she said. "We will continue to band together to make strides, uniting for equality."

"Wonder Woman" was also named best action film.

Guillermo del Toro's Cold War fantasy romance "The Shape of Water" leads all nominees with 14 bids. It's up for best picture, along with "The Big Sick," ''Call Me By Your Name," ''Darkest Hour," ''Dunkirk," ''The Florida Project," ''Get Out," ''Lady Bird," ''The Post" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

"Get Out," ''Coco" and "Big Little Lies" each won two awards during the pre-telecast. "Get Out" won for original screenplay and best sci-fi or horror film. "Coco" claimed top prizes for original song and animated feature. "Big Little Lies," which brought supporting actor honors to Alexander Skarsgard and Laura Dern.

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

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