L.A. makes ‘L.A.’ 3 for 3

Warner Bros.’ “L.A. Confidential” was a hero at home, winning four top honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., including best picture. After last week’s best-pic wins from the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle, the pic becomes the third film (after 1983’s “Terms of Endearment” and 1993’s “Schindler’s List”) to sweep the first three critics’ prizes. Both those pics went on to nab the Oscar.

The 1950s-set noir thriller based on James Ellroy’s novel also took home L.A. crix prizes for Dante Spinotti’s cinematography and honors for Curtis Hanson’s direction and his and Brian Helgeland’s screenplay.

Pic also took top honors with the Boston reviewers.

The L.A. Film Critics’ other major multiple winner also reflected a home-town slant. New Line’s “Boogie Nights,” the saga of the 1970s porn scene in the San Fernando Valley, was cited for the supporting performances of Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore, and writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson was named the New Generation awardee.

Leading performer prizes went to Robert Duvall for October Films’ “The Apostle,” which the vet actor also directed and wrote, and to Helena Bonham Carter in Miramax’s “The Wings of the Dove,” based on the Henry James novel.

Going their own way

Apart from the top awards to “L.A. Confidential,” there was little similarity between Los Angeles critics’ prizes and those awarded by the prior groups (although Reynolds popped up previously on the New York poll and Bonham Carter was also cited by the NBR).

Composed of 47 print and broadcast journalists, LAFCA employs a two-ballot procedure to determine its prizes. The first ballot is weighted, with members voting up to three choices per category. The top two vote-getters are then in the runoff.

In a brisk three-hour session, this year’s meeting dispatched awards in 15 categories and a special citation. The special honor will go to Peter Bogdanovich for his work as an interviewer and chronicler of the bygone Hollywood studio system.

The Belgian “La Promesse,” a contempo tale of the working class, was honored in the foreign-language category, and the animation prize was split between Disney’s “Hercules” and the low-budget “Spirit of Christmas,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s trial balloon for the Comedy Central series “South Park.”

“Riding the Rails,” a look at Depression-era America by Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell, was cited as best documentary and “Finished” by William E. Jones was honored in the group’s experimental/independent section.

“Kundun” and “Titanic” scored in tech areas, respectively for Philip Glass’ musical score and production design by Peter Lamont. Other high-profile, late-year fare from the majors including “Amistad,” “As Good As It Gets” and “Good Will Hunting” lacked sufficient support to nab top honors.

Winners (with runners-up in parentheses) were:

Picture: “L.A. Confidential”

(“The Sweet Hereafter”)

Direction: Curtis Hanson, “L.A. Confidential”

(Atom Egoyan, “The Sweet Hereafter”)

Screenplay: Curtis Hanson, Brian Helgeland, “L.A. Confidential”

(Kevin Smith, “Chasing Amy”)

Actor: Robert Duvall, “The Apostle”

(Jack Nicholson, “As Good As It Gets”)

Actress: Helena Bonham Carter, “The Wings of the Dove”

(Helen Hunt, “As Good As It Gets”)

Supporting actor: Burt Reynolds, “Boogie Nights”

(Kevin Spacey, “L.A. Confidential”)

Supporting actress: Julianne Moore, “Boogie Nights”

(Gloria Stuart, “Titanic”)

New Generation: Paul Thomas Anderson

Foreign-language: “La Promesse,” Belgium

(“Shall We Dance?” Japan)

Documentary: “Riding the Rails”

(“Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist”)

Animation: “Hercules” and “The Spirit of Christmas”

Experimental/Independent: “Finished”

Cinematography: Dante Spinotti, “L.A. Confidential”

(Paul Sarossy, “The Sweet Hereafter”)

Music: Philip Glass, “Kundun”

(James Horner, “Titanic”)

Production design: Peter Lamont, “Titanic”

(Jeannine Oppewall, “L.A. Confidential”)

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