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‘Hurt Locker’ tops with L.A. critics

Bridges, Moreau win top acting prizes

“The Hurt Locker” has disarmed the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., as Kathryn Bigelow’s visceral Iraq War drama snared honors for best picture and best director of the year on Sunday. The Summit Entertainment pickup first premiered at the 2008 Venice and Toronto film festivals.

Jeff Bridges won the actor nod for his turn as a boozy, washed-up country musician in Fox Searchlight’s “Crazy Heart,” which also plucked the group’s music honors for songwriters T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton.

Yolande Moreau drew the actress prize for her performance as Gallic painter Seraphine de Senlis in “Seraphine,” a Music Box Films release.

Where portrayals of tortured artists prevailed in the lead acting categories, the supporting honors went to a pair of villains: Christoph Waltz as a multilingual Nazi colonel in the Weinstein Co.’s “Inglourious Basterds,” and Mo’Nique as the mother of all abusive mothers in Lionsgate’s “Precious.”

Besides “The Hurt Locker” and “Crazy Heart,” the only film to score more than one prize from the L.A. critics was Sony/TriStar’s “District 9,” which received the New Generation award for South African director Neill Blomkamp and was also cited for production designer Philip Ivey’s imaginative rendering of Johannesburg in the wake of an alien invasion.

French helmer Olivier Assayas’ family drama “Summer Hours,” released by IFC Films, was the org’s choice for top foreign-language film.

Two other pics proved popular with the L.A. critics. Paramount’s “Up in the Air” was recognized in the screenplay category for Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner’s adaptation of the Walter Kirn novel, while the film also placed runner-up for picture and supporting actress Anna Kendrick. Sony Pictures Classics’ Palme d’Or winner “The White Ribbon” won the cinematography award for Christian Berger’s black-and-white lensing and was the runner-up for Michael Haneke’s direction and foreign-language film.

Fox Searchlight’s stop-motion adaptation of “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” directed by Wes Anderson, poached the animation prize; the runner-up was Disney/Pixar’s “Up,” from helmer Pete Docter.

The award for documentary/nonfiction film turned out to be a shore thing, with a tie between Agnes Varda’s self-portrait “The Beaches of Agnes,” a Cinema Guild release, and helmer Louie Psihoyos’ dolphin-slaughter expose “The Cove,” from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

The Douglas E. Edwards award for independent/experimental film/video was given to Anders Edstrom and C.W. Winter’s Swedish production “The Anchorage,” which had its L.A. premiere at the AFI Film Festival.

Elsewhere, a certain French flavor could be discerned among the LAFCA picks, from the selections of Belgian thesp Moreau, “Summer Hours” and “The Beaches of Agnes” to the group’s decision to dedicate its awards to the French New Wave in commemoration of the movement’s 50th anniversary. As previously announced, New Wave luminary Jean-Paul Belmondo will receive the group’s career achievement award.

Other runners-up were Colin Firth (“A Single Man”), actor; Carey Mulligan (“An Education”), actress; Peter Capaldi (“In the Loop”), supporting actor; Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche (“In the Loop”), screenplay; Barry Ackroyd (“The Hurt Locker”), cinematography; Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg (“Avatar”), production design; Alexandre Desplat (“Fantastic Mr. Fox”), music score.

The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.’s awards dinner will be held Jan. 16 at the InterContinental Hotel in Century City.

And the winners are:

PICTURE: “The Hurt Locker”
Runner-up: “Up in the Air”

DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
Runner-up: Michael Haneke, “The White Ribbon”

ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
Runner-up: Colin Firth, “A Single Man”

ACTRESS: Yolande Moreau, “Séraphine”
Runner-up: Carey Mulligan, “An Education”

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
Runner-up: Peter Capaldi, “In the Loop”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Runner-up: Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”

SCREENPLAY: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air”
Runner-up: Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche, “In the Loop”

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Christian Berger, “The White Ribbon”
Runner-up: Barry Ackroyd, “The Hurt Locker”

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philip Ivey, “District 9”
Runner-up: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg, “Avatar”

BEST MUSIC SCORE: T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton, “Crazy Heart”
Runner-up: Alexandre Desplat, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: “Summer Hours”
Runner-up: “The White Ribbon”

DOCUMENTARY/NON-FICTION FILM: “The Beaches of Agnès” and “The Cove” (tie)

ANIMATION: “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
Runner-up: “Up”

DOUGLAS EDWARDS EXPERIMENTAL/INDEPENDENT FILM/VIDEO AWARD: Anders Edstrom and C.W. Winter, “The Anchorage”

NEW GENERATION: Neill Blomkamp, “District 9”

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT: Jean-Paul Belmondo

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