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"Hurt Locker" wins 3 big ones from the major critics' group

NEW YORK (AP) - The National Society of Film Critics on Sunday selected "The Hurt Locker," a film about an elite Army bomb squad unit that works in Iraq to defuse improvised explosives while under the threat of insurgents, as the best picture of 2009.

The society, composed of film critics from some of the country's top publications, also bestowed honors on the movie's director, Kathryn Bigelow, and lead actor, Jeremy Renner.

The society picked Yolande Moreau as best actress for her performance in "Seraphine," a French film about the painter Seraphine de Senlis.

Joel and Ethan Coen won best screenplay for "A Serious Man," a dark comedy set in 1967, while "The Beaches of Agnes," an autobiographical documentary about the life of director Agnes Varda, was selected as the best nonfiction film.

"Summer Hours," a story of three siblings by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, won for best foreign language film.

Mo'Nique, the Baltimore-born comedian best known for her roles in television sitcoms and as the host of her own talk show, was selected as best supporting actress for her portrayal of an abusive mother in "Precious."

Austrian Christoph Waltz won for best supporting actor for his work as the Jew Hunter in "Inglourious Basterds," a Quentin Tarantino war film starring Brad Pitt as the leader of a group of soldiers trying to kill Adolf Hitler.

Forty-six of the society's 64 members voted during Sunday's meeting at a midtown Manhattan restaurant.

The society, founded in 1966, has a reputation for picking foreign films or critics' darlings. Rarely do the group's selections mirror those given out during the Academy Awards, but its members are highly esteemed by filmmakers and film critics.

The Academy Awards are set for March 7.

Complete 2009 National Society of Film Critics winners and finalists:

BEST PICTURE* 1. "The Hurt Locker" 64 (Kathryn Bigelow) 2. "Summer Hours" 23 (Olivier Assayas) 3. "Inglourious Basterds" (17) Quentin Tarantino

BEST DIRECTOR* 1. Kathryn Bigelow 85 ("The Hurt Locker") 2. Olivier Assayas 23 ("Summer Hours") 3. Wes Anderson 18 ("Fantastic Mr. Fox")

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM* 1. "Summer Hours" 61 (Olivier Assayas) 2. "Everlasting Moments" 21 (Jan Troell) 3. "Police, Adjective" 20 (Corneliu Porumboiu) 4. "35 Shots of Rum" 20 (Claire Denis)

BEST NONFICTION FILM* 1. "The Beaches of Agnes" 40 (Agnes Varda) 2. "Tyson" 30 (James Toback) 3. "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" 25 (Sacha Gervasi)

BEST SCREENPLAY*1. Joel and Ethan Coen 33 ("A Serious Man")2. Olivier Assayas 25 ("Summer Hours")3. Quentin Tarantino 22 ("Inglourious Basterds")

BEST ACTRESS*1. Yolande Moreau 22 ("Séraphine")2. Meryl Streep 21 ("Julie & Julia" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox")3. Abbie Cornish 19 ("Bright Star")

BEST ACTOR*1. Jeremy Renner 30 ("The Hurt Locker")2. Jeff Bridges 24 ("Crazy Heart")3. Nicolas Cage 15 ("Bad Lieutenant")

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS*1. Mo’Nique 28 ("Precious")2. Anna Kendrick 24 ("Up in the Air")2. Samantha Morton 24 ("The Messenger")

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR*1. Christoph Waltz 28 ("Inglourious Basterds")*1. Paul Schneider 28 ("Bright Star")3. Christian McKay 27 ("Me and Orson Welles")

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY*1. "The White Ribbon" 33 (Christian Berger)2. "The Hurt Locker" 32 (Barry Ackroyd)3. "Everlasting Moments" – 19 (Jan Troell)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN*1. Nelson Lowry 43 ("Fantastic Mr. Fox") 2. Rick Carter 28 ("Avatar") 3. Henry Selick 12 ("Coraline")

* winner

FILM HERITAGE AWARDRestoration of "Rashomon" by Academy Film Archive, the National Film Center of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.Bruce Posner for restoration of Manhatta .Treasures from American Film Archives, Vol. 4: Avant Garde 1947-1986 (National Film Preservation Foundation).Warner Archive Collection. UCLA Film &Television Archive for its restoration of "The Red Shoes." Kino International Avant-Garde Volume 3 (Experimental Cinema 1922-1954).

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