Bay Area org also fetes Huppert, Caine

SAN FRANCISCO — The newly formed San Francisco Film Critics Circle chose Roman Polanski’s Holocaust drama “The Pianist” as the best picture of 2002 and gave top acting awards to Michael Caine and Isabelle Huppert.

Polanski’s searing picture, which stars Adrien Brody as Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, is based on Szpilman’s memoir of Warsaw under siege by Nazi forces.

Caine won for his starring role in director Phillip Noyce’s “The Quiet American,” an adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1955 novel that traces early U.S. involvement in the French war in Indochina. Caine plays a cynical English journalist whose relationship with a young Vietnamese woman is threatened by the arrival of an idealistic young American.

Special honor for Noyce

Director Noyce also received a special citation from the group for his work helming two films, “The Quiet American” and the Australian historical drama “Rabbit-Proof Fence.”

The group’s best actress award went to Huppert for her bold work in Michael Haneke’s “The Piano Teacher,” an exploration of the sexual obsessions of a repressed teacher at a Vienna conservatory.

Miranda Richardson won the supporting actress prize for multiple roles in “Spider,” David Cronenberg’s drama about a mentally ill man (Ralph Fiennes). As supporting actor, the group cited Chris Cooper for “Adaptation,” the latest comic collaboration from the creators of “Being John Malkovich,” director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman.

Haynes hailed for helming ‘Heaven’

Todd Haynes was named best director for “Far From Heaven,” his striking homage to Douglas Sirk’s 1950s mellers, starring Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid as a suburban couple whose seemingly perfect life is shattered by the revelation of the husband’s homosexuality.

For best documentary, the group selected “Rivers and Tides,” director Thomas Riedelsheimer’s chronicle of Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy, who works with found objects within nature to create sculptures, many of them transitory.

The top award in the foreign-language category went to “Y tu mama tambien,” Alfonso Cuaron’s story of two teen boys on a road trip through Mexico with an older woman.

Kudos for Sept. 11 shorts

A special citation was awarded to local filmmakers Jay Rosenblatt and Caveh Zahedi for “Underground Zero,” a collection of short films inspired by the events of Sept. 11. In addition to curating the collection, Rosenblatt and Zahedi each contributed shorts to “Underground Zero.”

Writer-director Dylan Kidd also received a special citation, for most promising debut for “Roger Dodger,” which stars Campbell Scott as a chronic womanizer who learns a few things about women from his 16 year-old nephew.

Founded this year, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle comprises critics from Bay Area publications.

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