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‘King’ reigns among Chi crix

'Rings,' 'Translation' take three awards apiece

PARK CITY — New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” extended its reign, taking three prizes Wednesday in the Chicago Film Critics Assn. annual awards, including picture and director for Peter Jackson.

The concluding chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth adaptation also took the music award for Howard Shore’s original score.

The Chi critics’ other principal kudos recipient was Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” which secured the actor prize for Bill Murray. The Focus Features release also was recognized for Coppola’s original screenplay and cinematographer Lance Acord’s lensing of the off-kilter romance’s Tokyo locations.

Cementing her status as one of the front-runners for the actress Oscar, Charlize Theron scored another nod for her turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Newmarket’s “Monster.”

Supporting performance honors went to Tim Robbins for his work as a man carrying the baggage of childhood trauma into adulthood in Warner’s “Mystic River,” and to Patricia Clarkson for her acerbic take on the terminally ill mother in United Artists’ “Pieces of April.”

Other awards include documentary to Errol Morris’ “The Fog of War,” from Sony Pictures Classics, and foreign film to Miramax’s “City of God” (Brazil), co-directed by Katia Lund and Fernando Meirelles.

Young New Zealand thesp Keisha Castle-Hughes was named most promising performer for her role in Newmarket’s “Whale Rider,” and husband and wife writers-directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini continued their winning streak, picking up the most promising filmmaker nod for “American Splendor,” from HBO Films and Fine Line.

Traditionally presented at the start of March, the Chicago awards ceremony has been pushed back to an as-yet unconfirmed date in April or May due to delays caused by the screener ban.

The CFCA originally had opted to cancel its awards in protest of the ban and in support of a similar decision by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. It reversed its decision when a New York federal judge overturned the ban in December.

Broadcaster Dean Richards and CFCA president Dann Gire announced the 2003 award winners live on WGN Channel 9 in Chicago Wednesday morning.

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