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WALL-E 4, Slumdog 3, Batman and vampire both 2, say Chicago critics

Is it possible that an animated robot will edge out Batman and Benjamin Button in awards season this year? "Wall-E," starring a mechanical garbage collector of the future, cleaned up today in the 2008 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards. The Pixar/Disney production won for best picture, best original screenplay, best original score and best animated film.

Last week "Wall-E" was also voted best picture by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It is currently ranked No. 34 in IMDb's poll showing the 250 greatest films of all time - a list admittedly tilted toward recent films.

"Wall-E" has pulled off the neat trick of simultaneously being a delightful family entertainment and an attack on modern consumerism.

"Slumdog Millionaire," Danny Boyle's breathtaking film about a Mumbai slum kid who becomes a finalist on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," won three CFCA categories: best director, best adapted screenplay and most promising newcomer (Dev Patel).

Tied with two awards each were the year's box office champ, "The Dark Knight," and "Let the Right One In," the Swedish horror film about a friendship between a lonely boy and a lonely vampire.

The Batman epic won for Heath Ledger as best supporting actor, and best cinematography. The serious and disturbing vampire film won for best foreign-language film and most promising director (Tomas Alfredson).

Mickey Rourke was honored as best actor for his bruising performance in "The Wrestler." Anne Hathaway won best actress for her performance as a recovering addict attending her sister's wedding in "Rachel Getting Married." Kate Winslet was named best supporting actress for "The Reader." And "Man on Wire," the film about Philippe Petit's 1974 tight-wire walk between the two World Trade Center towers, was best documentary.

There are 55 members of the CFCA, featuring critics from the Chicago Sun-Times (including me, a voting member), Daily Herald, Reader, New City Time Out, radio and TV, and internet-based critics from such as Ain't-It-Cool-News, MovieCityNews and eFilmcritic.

The awards were announced early this morning on WGN-TV by group president Dann Gire and group members Dean Richards and Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper.

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