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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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NY Crix add kudos to 'Hurt Locker'

NEW YORK (AP) — The Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker” added to its award-season momentum, winning best film from the New York Film Critics Circle.

The group, which announced its selections Monday, also awarded best director to Kathryn Bigelow of “The Hurt Locker.” Those choices mirrored the selections of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which were announced Sunday.

The New York critics picked Meryl Streep for best actress for her performance in “Julie & Julia.” It was her fourth award from the group. Best actor went to George Clooney, who was chosen for “Up in the Air” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The latter, Wes Anderson's stop-motion animated movie, won for best animated film.

Christoph Waltz, who played a menacing Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's “Inglourious Basterds,” won best supporting actor. Best actress went to Mo'Nique for her performance as the mother in “Precious.”

The New York Film Critics Circle Awards are among the drumbeat of critics' prizes leading up to the Academy Awards on March 7. Oscar nominations are announced Feb. 2. Nominations for the Golden Globes, perhaps the most high profile of the earlier awards, were to be announced Tuesday by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The early positive critical response to James Cameron's “Avatar” has recently altered the handicapping of the Oscar race. Though the NYFCC declined to give any awards to “Avatar,” the New York Film Critics Online on Sunday named the movie its choice for best picture.

“We had a lot of good stuff to choose from and we spread the awards around,” said NYFCC chairman Armond White, critic for New York Press. “That's a good thing because it recognizes the year's abundance.”

The group also gave best screenplay to the political satire “In the Loop.” Best cinematography went to Christian Berger for his work on Michael Haneke's “The White Ribbon.”

Olivier Assayas' French drama “Summer Hours” won for best foreign film. Terence Davies' “Of Time and the City,” which is both a documentary and a personal narrative, was chosen as best “nonfiction film.”

For the first time, the critics also chose to give their special award to a fellow critic: Andrew Sarris, the famed critic who wrote for the Village Voice and championed the “auteur theory.” Earlier this year, the 81-year-old writer was laid off by the New York Observer, though he remains a film professor at Columbia University.

The New York Film Critics Circle, founded in 1935, will present its awards Jan. 11. The group, which is composed of 33 metro-area film critics, last year named Gus Van Sant's “Milk” as best picture.

Full list of 2009 NYFCC winners:

Best Film: “The Hurt Locker”

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”

Best Screenplay: “In the Loop”

Best Actress: Meryl Streep for “Julie and Julia

Best Actor: George Clooney for “Up in the Air” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique for “Precious”

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Cinematography: Christian Berger for “The White Ribbon”

Best Animated Film: “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Best Non-fiction Film: “Of Time and the City”

Best Foreign Language Film: “Summer Hours”

Best First Feature: “Hunger,” director Steve McQueen

Special Award: To Andrew Sarris for his contribution to film criticism

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