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Nat’l Crix shift into ‘Drive’

'Park' nabs best director, best screenplay

NEW YORK — By just two votes, David Lynch’s rule-breaking “Mulholland Drive” edged out Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park” for the National Society of Film Critics’ best picture kudos, announced Saturday at Sardi’s Restaurant.

But Altman nabbed the director nod, beating Lynch by three votes and Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”) by six.

“Gosford Park” also took the screenplay award (Julian Fellowes) and supporting actress gong (Helen Mirren). “Ghost World” was a close second for the screenplay honor, while Chris Nolan’s “Memento” took third.

For his work in Wes Anderson’s quirky studio pic “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Gene Hackman won the actor nod, with Denzel Washington (“Training Day”) and Tom Wilkinson (“In the Bedroom”) second and third place, respectively.

Actress kudos went overwhelmingly to “Mulholland Drive” star Naomi Watts, who outscored Sissy Spacek (“In the Bedroom”) and Charlotte Rampling, star of French pic “Under the Sun.”

Steve Buscemi took the supporting actor gong for “Ghost World,” with Ben Kingsley (“Sexy Beast”) in second place.

Wong Kar-Wai’s “In the Mood for Love” received foreign-language film honors, and its cinematographers, Christopher Doyle and Mark Li Ping-bin, won the lensing kudos. Nonfiction award went to Agnes Varda’s docu “The Gleaners and I”; Richard Linklater’s toon hybrid “Waking Life” nabbed the award for experimental pic.

Society honored Martin Scorsese’s “My Voyage to Italy” with a special film heritage award, given only in years when deemed warranted. A special citation also went to animation artist Faith Hubley, who died in December.

This year’s awards were dedicated to the memory of Pauline Kael, long-time movie critic for the New Yorker and a founding member of the society.

In its 36th year, society is chaired by New York magazine’s Peter Rainer. Elected members of the 52-strong national org include film critics at Time, Newsweek, the New Yorker, the Village Voice, the Chicago Reader, the Boston Phoenix and Slate.

Last year Edward Yang’s “Yi Yi” received the society’s nod for best picture, while eventual Oscar winner Stephen Soderbergh took director kudos for his work on “Traffic” and “Erin Brockovich.”

The awards bring little clarity to this year’s muddled Oscar picture. While Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” was also the pick of the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. voted “In the Bedroom” best picture; the National Board of Review gave the honor to “Moulin Rouge”; the Toronto Film Critics Assn. bestowed the kudos upon “Memento”; and the Golden Globes found “A Beautiful Mind” worthy of six nominations, including picture.

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