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Broadcast film critics weigh in with their nominees

The marathon of end-of-the-year film nominees continues, with the announcement of the choice by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) of their annual Critics Choice Awards. The Association is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing 200 television, radio and online critics.

Founded in 1995, the BFCA presents its annual Critics Choice Awards each year to honor the finest achievements in filmmaking. The winners will be revealed at a gala awards ceremony on January 12, 2007 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and will be broadcast on the E! Television Network on January 20th. A portion of the proceeds from the awards presentation ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel is donated to the Starlight Children's Fund.

The Critics Choice Awards nominees did hold a few surprises. For Best Picture of the Year, the Association nominated BLOOD DIAMOND, the political thriller starring Leonard DiCaprio and Djimoun Honsou, the dysfunctional family indie hit LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and the English blackmail thriller NOTES ON A SCANDAL (none have appeared on other award nominee slates). The three longshots were nominated alongside such acknowledged films as BABEL, THE DEPARTED, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, LITTLE CHILDREN, THE QUEEN and UNITED 93.

Leonard DiCaprio scored for his twin turns in both BLOOD DIAMOND and THE DEPARTED (reflecting last week's Golden Globe nods); with Ryan Gosling, the superb young actor in the indie drama HALF NELSON, also included in the Best Actor nominee race. Others already on the short list for awards glory include Peter O'Toole (VENUS), Will Smith (THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS) and Forest Whitaker (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND).

The Best Actress race held no surprises, with the inclusion of Penelope Cruz (VOLVER), Judi Dench (NOTES ON A SCANDAL), Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN), Meryl Streep (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA) and Kate Winslet (LITTLE CHILDREN). There is your Oscar ballot, ladies and gentlemen.

For Best Supporting Actor, the BFCA included two actors who were unceremoniously dropped from the last week's Golden Globe list of contenders. Veteran actor Alan Arkin, the heroin-taking, foul mouthed grandfather of a dysfunctional clan in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, and Adam Beach, who has received high critical praise for his role as a Native American soldier in Clint Eastwood's FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, were included, along with the usual suspects Ben Affleck (HOLLYWOODLAND), Djimon Hounsou (BLOOD DIAMOND), Jack Nicholson (THE DEPARTED) and Eddie Murphy (DREAMGIRLS). And where, oh where, was Jackie Earle Haley for his career-resurrecting performance in LITTLE CHILDREN? For shame, BFCA.

Emma Thompson was finally acknowledged for her hilarious role as a neurotic writer in STRANGER THAN FICTION in the list of nominees for Best Supporting Actress, joining fellow actresses Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi (BABEL), Cate Blanchett (NOTES ON A SCANDAL), Jennifer Hudson (DREAMGIRLS) and Catherine O'Hara (FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION).

The BFCA gives an award for Best Acting Ensemble (listen up, Golden Globes and Oscars), with this year's contenders being the crowded casts of such films as BABEL, BOBBY, THE DEPARTED, DREAMGIRLS, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and, hooray, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION. Another departure (and an excellent idea) is the awarding of a prize for Best Young Actor and Actress.

Vying for the Best Young Actor prize are Cameron Bright (THANK YOU FOR SMOKING), Joseph Cross (RUNNING WITH SCISSORS), Paul Dano (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), Freddie Highmore (A GOOD YEAR) and Jaden Christopher Syre Smith (THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS). For Best Young Actress, the Association acknowledged the performances of Ivana Baquero (PAN'S LABYRINTH), Abigail Breslin (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), Shareeka Epps (HALF NELSON), Dakota Fanning (CHARLOTTE'S WEB) and Keke Palmer (AKEELAH AND THE BEE).

Bill Condon, who was cut from both the writing and directing categories for the Golden Globes for his work on DREAMGIRLS, was included in the BFCA list of Best Director nominees, along with Clint Eastwood (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), Stephen Frears (THE QUEEN), Paul Greengrass (UNITED 93) and Martin Scorsese (THE DEPARTED). Marty, this just could be your year......

Two foreign language films that have, so far, not been mentioned on any Best Foreign Language Film lists are in the running for the BFCA's foreign film prize. Deepha Mehta's WATER and Cannes Film Festival winner DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGENES) made the cut, along with APOLCALYPTO, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, PAN'S LABYRINTH and VOLVER.

Three well received documentary films that also have not been singled out on critics lists so far this year, Kirby Dick's skewering of the film ratings code, THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, the eco-friendly WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR and WORDPLAY, a highly entertaining look at the subculture of crossword puzzle enthusiasts, joined such films as AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and THE DIXIE CHICKS: SHUT UP AND SING for Best Documentary honors.

For a complete list of nominees, as well as past winners, visit the official website: Broadcast Film Critics Association

Sandy Mandelberger
Awards Watch Editor

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Chatelin Bruno
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