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Boston crix key up ‘Pianist’

'Gangs' 2nd as Beantown org boosts offbeat pix

BOSTON — “The Pianist,” Roman Polanski’s film of a Jewish musician who survives the Warsaw Ghetto, was the surprise winner at this year’s balloting of the Boston Society of Film Critics.

Meeting at the Lenox Hotel for their annual get-together, the Boston scribes gave the film three awards: best film, director and actor (Adrien Brody). In each category it edged out runner-up “Gangs of New York,” with director Martin Scorsese and actor Daniel Day-Lewis the also-rans.

Staying true to form, the Boston balloting spotlighted some overlooked films, giving new life to potential Oscar contenders. Maggie Gyllenhaal took actress kudos for the kinky “Secretary” over Julianne Moore in “Far From Heaven.” In the supporting actor category, veteran actor Alan Arkin won for “13 Conversations About One Thing,” with John C. Reilly named runner-up for his body of work in 2002 (“The Good Girl,” “The Hours,” “Chicago,” “Gangs of New York”). Toni Collette was tapped for supporting actress for “About a Boy” and “The Hours,” with Catherine Zeta-Jones coming in second for “Chicago.”

The Mexican film “Y tu mama tambien” defeated French pic “Time Out” for foreign-language film, while the documentary prize went to “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” the creatively told story of movie exec Robert Evans, over the popular but more conventional “Standing in the Shadow of Motown.”

Charlie Kaufman drew the screenplay nod for “Adaptation,” with David Benioff (“25th Hour”) coming in second; Edward Lachman’s cinematography for “Far From Heaven” edged out Conrad Hall’s for “Road to Perdition.” Peter Care (“Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys”) drew new filmmaker honors over “Fast Runner” director Zacharias Kunuk.

In a spirited business meeting prior to the vote, the critics issued a statement lambasting local film exhibitors (Loews, AMC, National Amusements) for what they termed the “unprofessional” and “inferior” quality of projection in local theaters. In one example cited, an advance screening of “About Schmidt” had to be canceled after the film jammed and melted; when it resumed, the reels had been put on the platter out of order.

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