Penn, Boyle, Hawkins, Stanton attend event

HOLLYWOOD — Even with half of them absent, the honorees attending Monday’s Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. Awards did their best to entertain a crowd that was probably critiquing the event as it progressed. Film critic Leonard Maltin opened the night, explaining how even in a time when critics are no longer as appreciated as they once were, he sees a need for the profession.

“I still enjoy the discussion and reading a thoughtful piece of writing,” he said.

Former Warner Bros. topper and career achievement recipient John Calley as well as award winners Penelope Cruz and Mike Leigh were among the absentees (Cruz sent a message via video), but Sally Hawkins, Danny Boyle and Andrew Stanton were on hand to pick up their kudos. Sean Penn took home best actor for “Milk,” noting that actors, filmmakers and film critics are all in the same boat because “they are desperately in love with, and desperately loathing” of the work they do.

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