Awards Round-Up: Critics Speak as Hurt Locker, Avatar Gather Momentum


Critics organizations around the country have begun their annual winter rites, gathering in conclave and releasing intermittent puffs of smoke from their roofs to signal the anointing of 2009's best. After the jump, a sampling of the chosen from Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere, plus Critics Choice nominees and the European Film Awards own typically tasteful response to the kudos frenzy:

· The bulk of the action took place Sunday, highlighted by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's selection of The Hurt Locker and its filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow as the year's best picture and director. Perhaps most notably, LAFCA went way outside the box for its Best Actress prize, selecting Séraphine's Yolande Moreau over runner-up Carey Mulligan. Team Gabby Sidibe shrugged off the blow.

· Over in Manhattan, meanwhile, the New York Film Critics Online were the first to go out for Avatar as Best Picture, sticking with Bigelow, however, as Best Director. The rest of the top-tier prizes weren't quite as adventurous, including Jeff Bridges as Best Actor for Crazy Heart, Meryl Streep as Best Actress for Julie & Julia, Mo'Nique as Best Supporting Actress for Precious, and Christoph Waltz as Best Supporting Actor for Inglourious Basterds.

· The Boston Society of Film Critics didn't veer too far off either of those paths themselves, opting for a Hurt Locker trifecta of Best Picture, Director, and Actor (Jeremy Renner) along with prizes for editing and cinematography.

· The American Film Institute issued its traditionally head-scratching list of the year's 10 best films and TV shows, the former of which this year eschewed the likes of An Education and Avatar in favor of The Hangover and... Sugar? OK, then.

· The Broadcast Film Critics Association that blesses us every year with the Critics Choice Awards unveiled its own nominations, with Weinstein offerings Inglourious Basterds and Nine leading the way with a record 10 nominations apiece including Best Picture. Of course, "record" is a little suspect under the circumstances, which involve an expanded list of categories (from 17 to 25, mostly comprising craft nominations) and Basterds' additional placement in the Best Action Movie category. The winners will be announced Jan. 15 in Hollywood and broadcast on VH1.

· Finally, the European Film Awards chose Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon as the Best Film (and Haneke the Best Director) of 2009. Kate Winslet also won the last of her Reader hardware, taking home the night's Best Actress award. Congrats to all.

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