More critics awards in New York narrow the field

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The New York Film Critics Circle Awards on Sunday narrowed the field of predictable Oscar shoo-ins to four films — but then awarded a surprise (perhaps) as its Best PIcture: "United 93."

In another unexpected top pick: ‘‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’’ a gothic fairy tale directed by Guillermo del Toro and set against the backdrop of 1940s fascist Spain, was named best picture of 2006 by the National Society of Film Critics at the group’s annual meeting. ...

The film beat out Cristi Puiu’s ‘‘The Death of Mr. Lazarescu’’ and Clint Eastwood’s ‘‘Letters from Iwo Jima’’ in the group’s meeting Saturday at Sardi’s restaurant in New York City.

Del Toro, a Mexican filmmaker whose previous movies include 2004’s ‘‘Hellboy’’ and 2002’s ‘‘Blade II’’, did not receive a nod for best director. That distinction went to Paul Greengrass for the Sept. 11 docudrama ‘‘United 93.’’

‘‘Pan’s Labyrinth’’ is told through the eyes of a young girl, Ofelia — played by the Spanish actress Ivana Baquero — who retreats into fantasy amid the political chaos of post-Franco Spain and the uprooting of her family to a military outpost. Ofelia enters a labyrinth that leads to a world of fantastical creatures and magic.

Acting honors went to Helen Mirren for ‘‘The Queen’’ and Forest Whitaker for ‘‘The Last King of Scotland.’’

Peter Morgan won best screenplay for ‘‘The Queen,’’ which follows Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II days after Princess Diana’s death.

Best supporting actor honors went to Mark Wahlberg for ‘‘The Departed’’ and Meryl Streep for her performances in ‘‘The Devil Wears Prada’’ and ‘‘A Prairie Home Companion.’’

‘‘An Inconvenient Truth,’’ starring Al Gore, was chosen as the best documentary of the year.

The society also honored David Lynch’s ‘‘Inland Empire’’ for its experimental use of digital video, and Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘‘Children of Men’’ for cinematography.

These were the 41st annual awards given out by the National Society of Film Critics, an association of 55 members from major publications across the country.

The group’s opinions often diverge from those of Oscar voters. This year’s Oscar nominees will be announced Jan. 23.

AP

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on January 8, 2007 12:45 PM.

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