N.Y. critics go for ‘Fargo’

NEW YORK — Real good then.

Joel and Ethan Coen’s twisted Midwestern fable “Fargo” has been voted the best film of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle.

Geoffrey Rush won the best actor award from the circle for his portrayal of a troubled Australian concert pianist in Fine Line’s “Shine,” which earlier this week was named best film by the National Board of Review.

The Gotham critics’ association selected Emily Watson as best actress and Lars von Trier as best director for October Films’ “Breaking the Waves.”

The risotto turned out perfectly for Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott, who received the best first film award for “Big Night.” The comedy about two Italian brothers whose dedication to fine cuisine threatens to put their restaurant out of business was produced by Rysher Entertainment and the Samuel Goldwyn Co.

Harry Belafonte was named best supporting actor for his role in Fine Line’s Jazz Age epic “Kansas City,” directed by Robert Altman. Courtney Love was voted best supporting actress for her portrayal of Althea Flynt in Milos Forman’s “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” Sources said “Larry Flynt” was the runner-up for the circle’s best film award, with ”Breaking the Waves” placing third.

October fest

Robby Muller won the best cinematography award for his camerawork on “Breaking the Waves” and “Dead Man.” Including Muller’s honor, October’s “Breaking the Waves” brought home three awards from the circle, the most for any film.

“We at October are proud to be associated with Lars von Trier, Emily Watson and Robby Muller, and believe this tribute marks the beginning of heightened recognition for this exceptional film,” October Films co-managing director Amir Malin said.

Albert Brooks and Monica Johnson won the best screenplay award for Paramount’s “Mother.”

“Fargo” distrib Gramercy also won the best nonfiction film award with Leon Gast’s boxing documentary “When We Were Kings,” which it acquired at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Commenting on the award for “Fargo,” Gramercy prexy Russell Schwartz told Daily Variety, “We’re just extraordinarily pleased that such a well-respected body recognized this movie, which came out so early in the year.”

Continuing relationship

Gramercy plans to release the Coen brothers’ next film, “The Big Lebowski,” starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi, at Thanksgiving next year, Schwartz said.

The best foreign-language film was Jafar Panahi’s “The White Balloon,” which was released by October.

An award for distinguished reissue was given to the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock classic “Vertigo,” which was re-released by Universal Pictures.

Jonas Mekas, co-founder, president and program director of Gotham’s Anthology Film Archives, will receive a special contributions award.

Founded in 1935, the circle is an association of critics from major New York-based newspapers and magazines. Bob Campbell of Newhouse News Service is chairman, and Thelma Adams of the New York Post is vice chairman. The group will hold its annual awards dinner Jan. 5 in the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center.

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