L.A. Film Crix awards make Eastwood’s day

“I didn’t know when we started that it would have this lasting impact or if it would be commercial. I didn’t think about any of it,” Clint Eastwood admitted yesterday when accepting his three awards for “Unforgiven” from the L.A. Film Critics Assn. “I knew I was going to be uncompromising in interpreting David Peoples’ script.”

At what career achievement award winner Budd Boetticher otherwise called “The First Annual Clint Eastwood Film Festival,” the winner of the group’s best picture, director and actor nods for 1992 allowed that he was “overwhelmed” by his honors. “I’m the happiest guy around here.”

Thanking the assembled critics for having “discovered the film,” Eastwood mused, “I guess it’s human nature that an actor or director feels when a critic praises him he’s such a very sensitive and intelligent person, and when they criticize him that they’re stupid and insensitive. Today, I guess I’m with the most sensitive and intelligent group of people in town.”

Spirited and efficient awards luncheon at the Bel Age Hotel provided enough star power, in the persons of Eastwood, best actress winner Emma Thompson, supporting actor honoree Gene Hackman and supporting actress recipient Judy Davis, as well as Thompson’s husband, Kenneth Branagh, to keep the paparazzi busy.

Thompson, receiving one of many awards for her work in “Howards End,” thanked “the gravity-defying Merchant Ivory,” adding, “Their gift to me was the role of a lifetime.” Speculating that “these awards are for the roles, really,” Thompson scored hefty points in concluding, “We need more screen heroines to challenge and match all the heroes.”

Davis lavished praise on her “Husbands and Wives” writer-director Woody Allen for creating such a complex part, then got an inadvertent laugh when she said that, “It’s Woody’s unique ability to understand women….”

Claiming nervousness, Hackman, honored for his role in “Unforgiven,” said, “Several days ago my friend Glenn Close accepted this award for me at the New York Film Critics, but unfortunately she cannot be here today … so I’ll have to accept on my behalf.”

Fifth “Unforgiven” award went to screenwriter David Webb Peoples, who expressed his continuing excitement “to be associated with a movie that Clint Eastwood made,” adding that actors “made me look better than it was on the page.”

Bringing an international flavor to the proceedings were Zbigniew Preisner, in from Poland for his second consecutive best musical score LAFCA award, for “Damage,” and Zhao Fei, in from China to pick up his best cinematography nod for “Raise the Red Lantern.”

Accepting best foreign film plaque for Neil Jordan, who missed his flight from N.Y., was “The Crying Game” producer Stephen Woolley.

Career achievement award winner Budd Boetticher was introduced by his frequent screenwriter on 1950s Randolph Scott oaters, Burt Kennedy. “Because of my friend Clint Eastwood,” Boetticher said, “the Western genre is now available, and I’m going to make two more pictures.”

New generation honoree Carl Franklin credited the critics for giving “One False Move” a theatrical life when it appeared headed straight to video.

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