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L.A. CRITICS GO INDIE ROUTE WITH ‘BROKEBACK’

By KIRK HONEYCUTT
The Hollywood Reporter, 12/11/05


 

 

 

 

THE WINNERS


BEST PICTURE
“Brokeback Mountain”

BEST DIRECTOR
Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”)

BEST ACTOR
Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote”)

BEST ACTRESS
Vera Farmiga (“Close to the Bone”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
William Hurt (“A History of Violence”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Catherine Keener (“Capote,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “The Interpreter,” “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”)

BEST SCREENPLAY
Dan Futterman (“Capote”)
Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale)


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Cache (Hidden)”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“Grizzly Man”

BEST ANIMATED FILM
"Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Robert Elswit (“Good Night, and Good Luck”)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
William Chang Suk Ping ("2046")

BEST MUSICAL SCORE
Joe Hisaishi and Youmi Kimura ("Howl's Moving Castle")

NEW GENERATION AWARD
Terrence Howard

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Richard Widmark

SPECIAL CITATION
Kevin Thomas

 

Surveying a year in which major studio films failed consistently not only with critics but also with moviegoers at the boxoffice, the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. leaned heavily toward independent and foreign-made films, albeit in several cases films produced or acquired by studio classic divisions.

The big winner in the group's annual awards vote was Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," the story of an ill-fated romance between modern-day cowboys. The critics voted the Focus Features release both best picture and best director for 2005.

The other multiple award winner was Sony Pictures Classics' "Capote," a look at Truman Capote when he was researching and writing his nonfiction masterpiece "In Cold Blood." The organization honored that film, directed by Bennett Miller, with a best actor nod to Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role and for Dan Futterman's screenplay.

The screenplay category ended in a tie between Futterman and Noah Baumbach for "The Squid and the Whale," the seriocomic tale based on Baumbach's childhood experiences in 1980s Brooklyn after his parents' divorce.

"Capote" could be said to have grabbed three honors, because the critics selected Catherine Keener as best supporting actress. But the organization voted to celebrate her body of work for the year, in which she appeared not only as Harper Lee -- Capote's childhood friend who helped him research his book -- but also in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "The Interpreter" and "The Ballad of Jack and Rose." For best supporting actor, the critics singled out William Hurt for his one-sequence role as a mob boss in David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence."

BIG-BUDGET ZERO
Absent from the critics' selection was any honor for a big-budget studio film. Although such films as Peter Jackson's "King Kong," Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins," Rob Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha" and Steven Spielberg's "Munich" did earn votes during the first round of voting, none came close to finishing in the two-nominee runoff.

Perhaps the most telling -- and for the industry, surprising -- win belongs to Vera Farmiga as best actress for her performance as a mother with a drug habit in "Down to the Bone." The Debra Granik film debuted last year at the Sundance Film Festival, where Farmiga won a special jury prize. But the film was not picked up by a distributor until newly formed Laemmle/Zeller acquired the film for its first release late this year.

Several winners came from overseas. Best musical score went to Joe Hisaishi and Youmi Kimura for the Japanese animated feature "Howl's Moving Castle," released by Disney. "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" was voted best animated film; it was released by DreamWorks but made by Nick Park and Steve Box of Aardman Animations in England. For production design, the critics went with William Chang Suk Ping's claustrophobic interior landscapes for Wong Kar Wai's "2046."

Robert Elswit's black-and-white photography of George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" earned best cinematography honors.

For best foreign language film, LAFCA picked Michael Haneke's "Cache" (Hidden), an intellectual thriller involving guilt and willful amnesia, made in French by the Austrian filmmaker. Best documentary went to German-born director Werner Herzog for Lions Gate's "Grizzly Man," yet another Sundance film, about grizzly bear fanatic Timothy Treadwell.

The New Generation award, which annually goes to a relative newcomer to cinema, went to Terrence Howard for his breakthrough year, during which he starred or played a supporting role in five films: "Hustle & Flow," "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," "Crash," "Four Brothers" and the HBO movie "Lackawanna Blues."

The group will present a special citation to veteran Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Thomas for his contribution to film culture in Los Angeles. Another citation will go to Anthology Film Archives' eight-disc DVD release "Unseen Cinema," a collection of experimental, avant-garde and narrative films from 1894-1941 curated by David Shepard and Bruce Posner.

The Douglas Edward Experimental/Independent Film/Video Award was awarded to "La Cummune (Paris 1871)" by Peter Watkins.
LAFCA will present its awards January 17 during a banquet at the Park Hyatt in Century City. Earlier, the group said that its Career Achievement Award will go to actor Richard Widmark.

LAFCA traditionally announces the runners-up in all categories. This year's are "A History of Violence" (picture); "2046" (foreign language); David Cronenberg, "A History of Violence," (director); Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents" (actress); Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain" (actor); Amy Adams, "Junebug" (supporting actress); Frank Langella, "Good Night, and Good Luck" (supporting actor); "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" (documentary); James Bissell, "Good Night, and Good Luck" (production design); Christopher Doyle, Yui-Fai Lai, Kwan Pun Leung, "2046" (cinematography); Ryuichi Sakamoto, "Tony Takitani" (music).