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L.A. critics group names 'Amour' best picture; 'The Master' gets 4 awards

Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times (MCT) • Dec 10, 2012 at 7:14 AM

LOS ANGELES — After being snubbed by major critics groups this awards season, “The Master” got a boost from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The Paul Thomas Anderson-directed film was awarded more prizes than any other film, taking honors for the filmmaker, lead actor Joaquin Phoenix, supporting actress Amy Adams and production design.

But the film couldn’t steal the best picture title from “Amour,” Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or-winning French drama about an aging married couple.

Instead, “The Master” had to settle Sunday for runner-up. Still, the picture fared far better with LAFCA than with other critics: The movie did not receive any awards from the National Board of Review or the New York Film Critics Circle. The picture centers on the relationship between the boisterous leader of a controversial faith (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a wayward man struggling to get on his feet (Phoenix); Adams plays the ringleader’s wife.

Over the years, LAFCA has earned a reputation for recognizing less predictable movies and performances than some of its peer groups. One of the organization’s more surprising choices this year came with its supporting actor selection, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” star Dwight Henry. The actor, who worked in a bakery before being cast in Benh Zeitlin’s film, has been largely excluded from the awards race conversation this season. Zeitlin and musician Dan Romer were also given a prize by LAFCA for the film’s score.

Meanwhile, “Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden drama, which has been a favorite with critics groups, received only one award from LAFCA — best editing, a category included by the group for the first time. (Bigelow was a runner-up for director.)

Other choices, however, were less obscure. Two women who are considered Oscar front-runners, Jennifer Lawrence and Emmanuelle Riva, were deemed the lead actresses of the year. Lawrence, 22, stars as a depressed widow in “Silver Linings Playbook,” while 85-year-old Riva plays a woman whose health is rapidly declining in the French drama “Amour.”

Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” was named the animated film of the year, beating out the little-seen “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” whose protagonist is a simply drawn stick figure.

The documentary award went to “The Gatekeepers,” in which six ex-leaders of Israel’s counterterrorism organization talk about their former profession. The movie is among 15 films that have been shortlisted for the documentary category at the Oscars.

“Holy Motors,” a French film about a man who travels between fantasy worlds, was labeled the year’s top foreign film. Roger Deakins, the go-to cinematographer of the Coen brothers, was honored for his work on the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall.”

Meanwhile, Chris Terrio was awarded the screenplay award for his work on “Argo,” Ben Affleck’s drama about the Iranian hostage crisis.

LAFCA, comprising about 60 L.A.-based film critics who work for the city’s print and online media outlets, has agreed with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on the best picture only once in 18 years — 2010’s “The Hurt Locker.” In 2011, LAFCA gave best picture to “The Descendants,” while the academy said the year’s top film was “The Artist.”

The 38th annual LAFCA awards ceremony will be held Jan. 12 at the InterContinental Los Angeles, where documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman will receive a career achievement award and plaques of recognition will be handed out to winners.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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