Story of Facebook rapidly becoming critical darling

David Fincher’s “The Social Network” continues to count the nation’s film critics among its closest friends, winning the award for best picture of the year from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.

The Sony drama about the contentious founding of Facebook was also cited as top film this weekend by the Boston Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Online and Blighty’s regional critics’ kudos (the Richard Attenborough Film Awards), as well as earlier by the Washington, D.C., Area Film Critics and the National Board of Review.

The L.A. critics split their director prize between Fincher and Olivier Assayas for “Carlos,” his three-part, 5 1/2-hour portrait of Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez. A multi-lingo international co-production made for French television and released theatrically in the U.S. by IFC, “Carlos” also scooped the award for foreign-language film and was the runner-up for picture. (Assayas also received the group’s foreign-language film prize last year for “Summer Hours.”)

“The Social Network” dominated the voting on Sunday, also nabbing the screenplay nod for Aaron Sorkin’s script and sharing the music prize for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score with Summit Entertainment’s “The Ghost Writer,” scored by Alexandre Desplat. “Carlos” was the only other film that took more than one award from the 39 critics assembled.

In a year in which no American thesps were recognized, Colin Firth won the actor kudo for his performance as King George VI in the Weinstein Co.’s “The King’s Speech,” while South Korean vet Kim Hye-ja took the actress prize for her work in the title role of IFC’s psychological whodunit “Mother” (also named runner-up for foreign-language film). Firth was the group’s runner-up for actor last year for “A Single Man.”

The group demonstrated a mob mentality in the supporting thesp categories, honoring Niels Arestrup for his turn as a gangleader behind bars in France’s “A Prophet” and Jacki Weaver for her performance as a ruthless mama in the Australian crime drama “Animal Kingdom.” Both pics were distributed by Sony Classics.

LAFCA voted its documentary/nonfiction film prize to Zeitgeist Films’ “Last Train Home,” debuting director Lixin Fan’s portrait of migrating Chinese workers. Disney/Pixar’s smash-hit sequel “Toy Story 3″ won for animation.

Lenser Matthew Libatique received the group’s cinematography honors for his handheld lensing on Fox Searchlight’s “Black Swan,” while Guy Hendrix Dyas was cited for his mind-bending production design on Warner Bros.’ “Inception.”

The New Generation award was given to Lena Dunham for her writing-directing debut, IFC pickup “Tiny Furniture,” in which she also starred. The group presented Legacy of Cinema nods to Serge Bromberg for his preservation efforts, including his work on “Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno,” and to the F.W. Murnau Foundation and Fernando Pena for their restoration of “Metropolis.”

Other runners-up were Edgar Ramirez (“Carlos”), actor; Geoffrey Rush (“The King’s Speech”), supporting actor; Olivia Williams (“The Ghost Writer”), supporting actress; David Seidler (“The King’s Speech”), screenplay; “The Illusionist,” animation; “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” docu; Roger Deakins (“True Grit”), cinematography; and Eve Stewart (“The King’s Speech”), production design.

The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.’s awards dinner will be held Jan. 15 at the InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles. As previously announced, Paul Mazursky will be feted for career achievement.

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