L.A. Crix tap ‘List,’ ‘Piano’

“The Piano” and “Schindler’s List” dueled for top honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. in voting Saturday, with Jane Campion’s drama prevailing in five categories, including direction and screenplay. However, Steven Spielberg’s holocaust epic nosed out the competition for the best picture award.

Holly Hunter, star of “The Piano,” was named best actress, while Anthony Hopkins was deemed best actor for his work in both “The Remains of the Day” and “Shadowlands.”

Supporting actress award was split between Ana Paquin, who played Hunter’s daughter in “The Piano,” and Rosie Perez for “Fearless.” Tommy Lee Jones got the supporting actor nod for “The Fugitive.”

“Schindler” and “The Piano” tied for the cinematography award, while “Schindler” copped its third mention in the production design category, awarded for the first time this year.

For the third year in a row, Zbigniew Preisner was the L.A. critics’ choice for musical score, for “Blue,””The Secret Garden” and “Olivier, Olivier.”

Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine” was best foreign film.

The New Generation Award was voted to young actor Leonardo di Caprio on the basis of his work in “This Boy’s Life” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”

Recipient of the Career Achievement Award will be veteran cinematographer John Alton, whose pioneering film noir lighting in the 1940s and ’50s marked him as one of the most influential artists in his field.

‘True’ touted

Documentary prize was voted to “It’s All True,” the account and assembly of Orson Welles’ long-lost South American docu project by Myron Meisel, Bill Krohn and Richard Wilson.

Frederic Back’s 20-minute “The Mighty River” was given the animation award, while the Douglas Edwards Award for Independent/Experimental Film & Video, newly named in honor of the late critic, archivist and programmer, went to “Silverlake Life: The View From Here” by Tom Joslin and Peter Friedman.

Early indicator

The LAFCA is the first critics’ group out of the box with awards for the year’s achievements. Last year the org’s big winner, “Unforgiven,” went on to win best picture, among other important awards, at the Oscars.

In the picture category, “Schindler’s List” came in ahead of “The Piano,” although in both the director and screenplay categories, Jane Campion’s nearest competition came from Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts,” co-written by Frank Barhydt.

Anthony Hopkins’ runner-up as actor was Daniel Day-Lewis for “In the Name of the Father” and “The Age of Innocence.” Holly Hunter was followed in the voting for actress by Debra Winger for “A Dangerous Woman” and “Shadowlands.”

Jones’ runner-up as supporting actor was Ralph Fiennes in “Schindler’s List.”

Cinematography honors were shared by Janusz Kaminski for “Schindler’s List” and Stuart Dryburgh for “The Piano.”

Following Preisner’s winning musical scores was Michael Nyman for “The Piano.” Allan Starski won the new production design award for “Schindler’s List, ” and runner-up was Dante Ferretti for “The Age of Innocence.”

Coming in second after “Concubine” as foreign film was Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Blue.”

Awards will be presented at a luncheon ceremony Jan. 18 at the Bel-Age Hotel.

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