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N.Y. crix tap ‘Turvy’ tops

Leigh named best director

NEW YORK — USA Films’ “Topsy-Turvy,” an examination of the relationship of English composers-satirists W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, was the top winner at the 65th annual New York Film Critics Circle awards. Pic’s helmer, Mike Leigh, was honored as best director.

“I don’t especially like that they pit us filmmakers in competition with each other, but it is awfully nice to have this double approbation,” said Leigh. “It certainly helps the profile of the film.”

Richard Farnsworth was named best actor for Walt Disney’s “The Straight Story” and Hilary Swank nabbed the best actress award for Fox Searchlight’s “Boys Don’t Cry.” So far, it has been a clean sweep for Swank, who also came away with awards from the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.

‘Malkovich’ nabs three

USA Films’ “Being John Malkovich” took home three awards: supporting actor and actress nods went to John Malkovich and Catherine Keener, respectively, while director Spike Jonze beat out “Boys Don’t Cry” helmer Kimberly Peirce to take home the award for best first film.

The Sony Pictures Classics release “All About My Mother,” from director Pedro Almodovar, won best foreign-language film, giving the comedic meller a clean sweep of the early critics’ awards. Artisan’s “Buena Vista Social Club” won best nonfiction film.

Paramount’s “Election” won best screenplay for Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s work adapting Tom Perrotta’s novel. Freddie Francis took home best cinematography for “The Straight Story,” for which David Lynch was runner-up in the directing category.

In response to the increase of animated films released this year, the org created the new category of best animated film, with the prize going to Paramount’s “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.”

“American Beauty” and “The Insider,” both big winners with the National Board of Review and L.A. film critics, came away empty-handed in an awards session that skewed heavily toward indies. “Beauty” finished in a three-way tie for runner-up, alongside “Being John Malkovich” and “The Straight Story.”

“This was not a deliberate attempt to be different,” said Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, chairperson of the New York Film Critics’ Circle. “This was an honest expression of how we felt.”

The closest contest was in the best supporting actor category, with Malkovich just holding off “Any Given Sunday’s” Jamie Foxx.

This year the critics will also be honoring one of their own, giving a special award to Manny Farber for his distinguished contribution to film criticism.

The org’s annual awards dinner will be held Jan. 9 at Windows on the World at the World Trade Center.

(Angelina Chen contributed to this report.)

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