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Brendan Fraser Wins Best Actor at Critics Choice for Playing Gay Man

Brendan Fraser Wins Best Actor at Critics Choice Awards
Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Fraser plays a gay recluse in the film. 

(CNN) -- In what could be the first of many major pieces of hardware for him this award season, Brendan Fraser picked up best actor for his role in film festival darling "The Whale" at Sunday's Critics Choice Awards.

Fraser had some mighty competition for the award, including Golden Globe winners Austin Butler, star of "Elvis," and Colin Farrell, who starred in "The Banshees of Inisherin."

Tom Cruise ("Top Gun: Maverick"), Paul Mescal ("Aftersun") and Bill Nighy ("Living") were also nominated.

Ultimately, the organization -- made of up more than 600 media critics and entertainment journalists -- picked Fraser, whose turn as a reclusive, obese teacher named Charlie in the Darren Aronofsky film has turned heads since its standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival.

"It was Herman Melville who once wrote that there are only five critics in America -- the rest are asleep. I don't know what it means, either, but I'm sure glad you woke up for me," Fraser said in his acceptance speech.

Though the film has spurred some backlash, Fraser ended his speech with a message of hope.

"If you -- like a guy like Charlie, who I played in this movie -- in any way, struggle with obesity, or you just feel like you're in a dark sea, I want you to know that if you, too, can have the strength to just get to your feet and go to the light, good things will happen," he said.

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Related: Brendan Fraser's Portrayal of Gay Man in 'The Whale' Earns Oscar Buzz

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