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Show goes on as L.A. film crix honor best

Just half the winners managed to attend, numerous seats were unoccupied, and the plaques weren’t ready because of the recent earthquake, but the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. still put on a convivial, if more serious than usual, awards luncheon at Le Bel Age Hotel Tuesday.

Steven Spielberg, Holly Hunter and Chen Kaige were on hand to accept awards for best picture (“Schindler’s List”), best actress (“The Piano”) and best foreign film (“Farewell My Concubine”), respectively.

Neither Rosie Perez, for “Fearless,” nor Tommy Lee Jones, for “The Fugitive,” was on hand to accept supporting acting kudos, although Anna Paquin made a quick dash to the podium to blurt out “Thank you” for her perf in “The Piano,” for which she tied for best supporting actress.

Leonardo DiCaprio unexpectedly turned up to acknowledge his receipt of the new generation award, while director Joe Dante presented the career achievement award to 92-year-old cinematographer John Alton.

References to the beloved qualities of black-and-white film became a running theme of the luncheon. Not only is Alton one of the all-time masters of the form , but “Schindler’s List,” for which Janusz Kaminski accepted the cinematography prize (with the absent Stuart Dryburgh for “The Piano”) is in black-and-white, as is the best documentary winner “It’s All True.” Co-directors Myron Meisel and Bill Krohn accepted the latter award, along with Elizabeth Wilson, appearing for her late husband, director Richard Wilson, and cinematographer Gary Graver.

Juliette Binoche thanked the crowd for Zbigniew Preisner, who won his unprecedented third straight award for musical score for “Blue,” in which Binoche starred, and Robert Wise accepted best actor honors on behalf of Anthony Hopkins for “The Remains of the Day” and “Shadowlands.”

Campion stand-in

As she had in New York, “The Piano” producer Jan Chapman stood in for Jane Campion to receive the best director and screenplay nods. Pic’s production designer Andrew McAlpine did the honors for “Piano” lenser Dryburgh. Award for independent/experimental filmmaking to “Silverlake Life: The View From Here” was accepted by the film’s co-producer Doug Block and Andrew Friedman, brother of co-director Peter Friedman.

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