‘Amour’ wins top prize from L.A. Film Critics

'Master' takes honors for actor, director

Amour,” Michael Haneke’s tender drama about a Parisian couple grappling with illness and mortality, was named best picture of the year by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. on Sunday.

The French-language Sony Classics release, which began its laureled run by winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May, also drew the actress prize for French thesp Emmanuelle Riva, who shared the honor with Jennifer Lawrence for the Weinstein Co.’s “Silver Linings Playbook.”

The other big LAFCA winners were the Weinstein Co.’s “The Master” and Fox Searchlight’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which scored four and three prizes, respectively. “The Master,” a runner-up for picture, was cited for director Paul Thomas Anderson, actor Joaquin Phoenix, supporting actress Amy Adams and production designers Jack Fisk and David Crank. Anderson had previously won picture and director prizes from the L.A. critics with 2007’s “There Will Be Blood.”

Continuing a winning streak that began with its double wins at Sundance, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” nabbed supporting actor honors for Dwight Henry and the New Generation award for helmer Benh Zeitlin. The first-time filmmaker also shared the group’s music/score award with fellow composer Dan Romer.

Austrian helmer Haneke had previously won the foreign-language film prize for 2005’s “Cache” and was a director runner-up for 2009’s “The White Ribbon.” His best-pic win for “Amour” marks the first time since 2006 (when “Letters From Iwo Jima” prevailed) that the L.A. critics opted to give their top prize to a film not in the English language.

The group presented a separate award for foreign-language film, however, to another French-language Cannes sensation, Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors.” The Indomina pickup also scored a runner-up mention for actor Denis Lavant.

Sunday’s meeting saw the introduction of a film editing award, which was presented to Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg for “Zero Dark Thirty.” While Sony’s drama about the hunt for Osama bin Laden had swept the New York and Boston critics’ awards, it received no other prizes from the L.A. critics except a runner-up mention for director Kathryn Bigelow.

Warner Bros.’ thriller “Argo” was recognized for Chris Terrio’s screenplay, in addition to placing runner-up in the editing category.

The animation prize was given to “Frankenweenie,” Tim Burton’s black-and-white stop-motion toon about a boy and his undead dog. The runner-up in the category was Don Hertzfeld’s short-film anthology “It’s Such a Beautiful Day.”

Sony Classics added to its LAFCA haul with a documentary prize for “The Gatekeepers,” Dror Moreh’s provocative look at the inner workings of Israel’s Shin Bet counterterrorist unit.

Roger Deakins claimed the cinematography prize for his work on “Skyfall,” beating out Mihai Malaimare Jr.’s lensing on “The Master.” Deakins was previously cited by the group for 2001’s “The Man Who Wasn’t There” and 1991’s “Barton Fink” and “Homicide.”

Other runners-up were: Anne Hathaway, “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Les Miserables” (supporting actress); Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained” (supporting actor); David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook” (screenplay); “Footnote” (foreign-language film); “Searching for Sugar Man” (docu); Adam Stockhausen, “Moonrise Kingdom” (production design; and Johnny Greenwood, “The Master” (music/score).

Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s avant-garde fishing documentary “Leviathan” received the Douglas E. Edwards award recognizing independent/experimental cinema.

Forty-one LAFCA members attended the meeting, with five members voting by proxy. The group’s awards dinner will be held Jan. 12 at the InterContinental Hotel in Century City; as previously announced, documaker Frederick Wiseman will receive the career achievement award.

Complete list of winners:

Picture: “Amour”
Runner-up: “The Master”

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Master”
Runner-up: Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
Runner-up: Denis Lavant, “Holy Motors”

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook” and Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour” (tie)

Supporting actress: Amy Adams, “The Master”
Runner-up: Anne Hathaway, “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Les Miserables”

Supporting actor: Dwight Henry, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Runner-up: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

Screenplay: Chris Terrio, “Argo”
Runner-up: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Foreign-language film: “Holy Motors”
Runner-up: “Footnote”

Documentary/non-fiction film: “The Gatekeepers”
Runner-up: “Searching for Sugar Man”

Animation: “Frankenweenie”
Runner-up: “It’s Such a Beautiful Day”

New Generation: Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Cinematography: Roger Deakins, “Skyfall”
Runner-up: Mihai Malaimare Jr., “The Master”

Editing: Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Runner-up: William Goldenberg, “Argo”

Production design: Jack Fisk and David Crank, “The Master”
Runner-up: Adam Stockhausen, “Moonrise Kingdom”

Music score: Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Runner-up: Jonny Greenwood, “The Master”

The Douglas Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video Award: “Leviathan”