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S.F. Critics pick ‘Milk,’ ‘Wrestler’

Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke tie for best actor

The S.F. Film Critics’ Circle found gold in a hometown story this year.

Gus Van Sant’s biopic about the city’s assassinated first out gay politico swept several awards, including best picture, director and original screenplay (by Dustin Lance Black).

Nods were announced Monday night.

Due to a deadlock in the voting, Sean Penn’s role as the titular figure in “Milk” shared the actor honor with Mickey Rourke’s embattled pro brawler in “The Wrestler.”

Actress kudo went to Sally Hawkins as the indefatigable heroine of Mike Leigh’s “Happy-Go-Lucky.” Supporting actress was Marisa Tomei as the stripping single mother Rourke woos in “Wrestler,” while the late Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight” claimed the male supporting actor prize. Latter pic also won Wally Pfister recognition for cinematography.

Foreign-language pic mantle was taken by a left-field favorite, the oddly poignant Swedish juvenile vampire tale “Let the Right One In.” Documentary laurels went to another near-unclassifiable effort, Guy Maddin’s mix of fact and fancy “My Winnipeg.” Translating his own widely produced stage play to the screen, Peter Morgan won the adapted screenplay nod for “Frost/Nixon.”

SFFCC’s annual Marlon Riggs Award, applauding “courage and innovation” by a member of the Bay Area film community, was awarded to Rob Nilsson. Active on the American indie scene since the early 1970s, Nilsson this year completed and exhibited as a whole the entire “9 @ Night” series — a largely B&W, improv-based, DV-shot cycle of nine interlocking narrative features mostly about S.F. socioeconomic fringe-dwellers that was 12 years in the making.

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