Roberts, Crowe nab best thesp awards

LONDON — The London Film Critics’ Circle refused to play into the hands of Oscar prognosticators, handing its top prize to “Being John Malkovich,” along with kudos for director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

“Billy Elliot” swept the British categories, garnering five wins including British film, director (Stephen Daldry) and producer (Greg Brenman and Jonathan Finn).

Recognition for Jamie Bell as British newcomer of the year and Julie Walters as British actress left the main performance categories open for Julia Roberts (“Erin Brockovich”) and Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”).

Roberts’ co-star and fellow Oscar nominee Albert Finney was honored as best British actor in a supporting role, but along with “Malkovich,” three other awards went to films not eligible for this year’s Oscar statuettes.

Samantha Morton was named best British supporting actress for “Sweet and Lowdown,” and Jim Broadbent best British actor for “Topsy-Turvy.”

The British screenwriter of the year went to Christopher Nolan for his complex thriller “Memento,” which played at January’s Sundance Film Festival.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” won foreign-language film of the year, and the Dilys Powell special achievement award was bestowed upon actor Richard Harris.

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