‘No Country’ tops with Boston critics

'Diving Bell' nabs best director, foreign film

The Boston Society of Film Critics dealt out its own hand of winners at this year’s meeting, with kudos going to favorites such as “No Country for Old Men,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and “Gone Baby Gone,” but also to several sleepers as well.

The Boston critics selected eight different films in the current 12 categories. Picture nod went to the Coen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men,” which battled throughout the meeting with “Diving Bell,” winning some categories and losing others. Indeed, for the film nod, “No Country” edged out “Diving Bell” by a single vote on the third ballot. The film also garnered supporting actor kudos for Javier Bardem.

“Diving Bell” helmer Julian Schnabel beat out the Coens for director, while cinematographer Janusz Kaminski was selected over “No Country’s” Roger Deakins (who was also in contention for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and “In the Valley of Elah”).

“Diving Bell” drew the foreign-language film nod as well, though under the rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, it is deemed an American production and ineligible for the foreign-film category.

Local favorite “Gone Baby Gone” picked up two awards. Amy Ryan took supporting actress for her turn as a drug-abusing mother whose child is kidnapped, while hometown actor-turned-director Ben Affleck was honored with the David Brudnoy New Filmmaker Award, named for the one of the founding members of the BSFC who died in 2004.

In other categories the Boston scribes seemed determined to surprise. Brad Bird won the screenplay category for his animated “Ratatouille,” while “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” was cited for its ensemble cast. Marion Cotillard took the actress kudos for her bravura performance as chanteuse Edith Piaf in “La Vie en rose,” while Frank Langella’s portrait of an aging Jewish novelist in “Starting Out in the Evening” won him the actor nod.

In the documentary category the prize went to “Crazy Love,” the story of Burt and Linda Pugach, who married after he was released from prison for having had her blinded with acid.

In addition to the awards, the organization voted on two significant changes for 2008. First, they will hold their first-ever award ceremony on Jan. 27 at the historic Brattle Theater in Cambridge. It will include the screening of one of the award-winning films and an appearance by one or more winners. Local recipients (for film festivals and production) also will be honored at that time.

Second, beginning in 2008, the critics will vote on two new categories: animated feature and film editing.

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