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THE DEPARTED Scores Big At The Critics Choice Awards

Monday, January 15-----The Critics Choice Awards, chosen by members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), were announced at a gala awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Friday. Coming just days before the Golden Globe ceremonies, to be held later tonight, and just two weeks before the Oscar nominations are announced, the clear momentum for certain films and talents seems to be reaching a crescendo. Unless there are some major surprises this evening at the Golden Globes ceremonies, the winners of the Critics Choice Awards seem well on their way to Oscar glory.

The BFCA's choice for Best Picture was THE DEPARTED, the crime thriller adapted by director Martin Scorsese from the Hong Kong policier INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002), directed by Andy Lau. THE DEPARTED won out against formidable competition from fellow nominees BABEL, BLOOD DIAMOND, DREAMGIRLS, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, LITTLE CHILDREN, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, NOTES ON A SCANDAL, THE QUEEN and UNITED 93.

Scorsese himself scored a Critics Choice Award as Best Director, besting Bill Condon (DREAMGIRLS), Clint Eastwood (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), Stephen Frears (THE QUEEN) and Paul Greengrass (UNITED 93). If Scorsese wins a Golden Globe this evening and is chosen by his Directors Guild of America peers in a few weeks, this could very well be Scorsese's year to win his first Oscar, after being nominated five times before.

The acknowledged frontrunners in the lead acting categories did not disappoint, with the choice of Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN) and Forest Whitaker (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND), making them seemingly unstoppable between now and Oscar night. Ditto Jennifer Hudson for her show-stopping performance as the slighted singer in DREAMGIRLS, who won as Best Supporting Actress. A surprise choice was her fellow DREAMGIRLS actor Eddie Murphy, whose dramatic turn as a James Brown-like soul singer scored the veteran actor a Best Supporting Actor nod, making his win at the Golden Globes and the Oscars a very real possibility.

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, the year’s certifiable indie hit, won an award for Best Acting Ensemble, besting its competition BABEL, BOBBY, THE DEPARTED, DREAMGIRLS and Robert Altman’s swan song A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE also scored awards for Paul Dano, who played the rebellious teenage son, as Best Young Actor; Abigail Breslin, the young daughter who dreams of beauty queen glory, as Best Young Actress; and Michael Arndt as Best Writer for his original screenplay.

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, the global warming documentary that has made a media star of Presidential also-ran Al Gore, won top documentary honors, winning the award over stiff competition from fellow nominees SHUT UP AND SING, THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? and WORDPLAY.

LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, Clint Eastwood’s companion piece to FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, told from the Japanese perspective of the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, won the top award in the Best Foreign Language Film sweepstakes. Told in Japanese with a cast of mostly unknown Japanese actors, with the exception of Ken Watanabe (who was Oscar-nominated for his role opposite Tom Cruise in THE LAST SAMURAI), the film has been an unanticipated critical and audience hit. Mel Gibson’s Mayan tale APOCALYPTO, the Cannes Film Festival wartime drama DAYS OF GLORY, the fantasy epic PAN’S LABYRINTH, Pedro Almodovar’s femme fest VOLVER and Deepa Mehta’s historical drama WATER were also nominated in this extremely competitive category.

Other winners announced in the Friday ceremonies included: Philip Glass for his mesmerizing musical score for the sleeper hit THE ILLUSIONIST; the hit box-office satire BORAT as Best Comedy Film; CARS as Best Animated Film; and CHARLOTTE’S WEB as Best Family Family.

For a complete list of the Awards and Nominees for the Critics Choice Awards, visit the official website of the Broadcast Film Critics Association:
Broadcast Film Critics Association

Sandy Mandelberger
Awards Watch Editor


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