Animated war doc named best picture by Critics

“Waltz With Bashir” edged “Happy-Go-Lucky” and “Wall-E” to win the 43rd annual best picture prize from the National Society of Film Critics.

“Happy-Go-Lucky” was the other big winner, prevailing in four categories.

The group’s 49 voting members, who rep media outlets in Gotham, L.A., Boston, San Francisco and Chicago, met Saturday evening at Gotham’s Sardi’s restaurant to make their picks. Publications such as the New Yorker, Time, Newsweek and the Village Voice are among those with members in the National Society of Film Critics.

There is no formal awards banquet or presentation; scrolls are sent to winners.

Actor and actress nods went to Sean Penn for “Milk” and Sally Hawkins for “Happy-Go-Lucky.” The latter pic’s writer and director, Mike Leigh, won in both categories, and Eddie Marsan drew the supporting actor kudo. Hanna Schygulla took supporting actress honors for “The Edge of Heaven.”

“Waltz With Bashir,” a Sony Classics pic in the mode of the distrib’s 2007 release “Persepolis,” is Israeli writer-helmer Ari Folman’s animated meditation on his own experience as a soldier in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. It is seen as a contender in both the animation and foreign-language Oscar categories but hasn’t been a regular winner of major early-season kudos.

The NSFC was formed in 1966 to promote the “mutual interests of film criticism and filmmaking.” It re-elected David Sterritt chairman for 2009.

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