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All the Buzz on Film Festival Awards, Celebrity Tributes and the Film Awards Season.

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Wednesday, January 9----------Bucking the critical groundswell in favor of the Coen Brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, the National Society of Film Critics this week gave four prizes, including Best Picture, to THERE WILL BE BLOOD. The NSFC also honored the oil-biz epic for Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Director (Paul Thomas Anderson), and Best Cinematography (Robert Elswit).

The NSFC also bucked the Best Supporting Actress trend, voting for Cate Blanchett's performance as Bob Dylan in I'M NOT THERE, over Amy Ryan, who's won virtually every other critics' award to date for playing a grieving mom in the Ben Affleck-helmed GONE BABY GONE. In other major acting categories, the NSFC gave nods to Julie Christie (Best Actress, AWAY FROM HER) and Casey Affleck (Best Supporting Actor, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD).

Tamara Jenkins' savagely funny and touching screenplay for THE SAVAGES was voted Best Screenplay, with Charles Ferguson's Iraq War documentary NO END IN SIGHT winning Best Documentary honors. For Best Foreign Film, the Society set its sights on this year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner, 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS from Romanian director Cristian Mingiu (which opens in US theaters later this month).  

To date, the only other major critics' group to recognize THERE WILL BE BLOOD for Best Picture and Director was the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The race is considered a toss up between that film and the Coen Brothers' bloody morality tale. However, the  NSFC nod confers front-runner status on Day-Lewis and Christie as the ones to beat come Oscar night.

Due to the on-going Writers Guild strike, this has been among the oddest award seasons ever, with this weekend's Golden Globes a major casaulty. The event, one of Hollywood's swankiest, will not be televised, since most major stars, members of their acting union the Screen Actors Guild, indicated they would not cross picket lines to attend. Instead, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which sponsors the Awards, and the NBC Television Network will present a television version that will rely on a press conference, canned interviews and highlight clips from previous wars. Quite a change for what has always been thought of as "Hollywood's raunchiest awards party". How the strike may affect the Oscars, which will be presented in less than 6 weeks, is the hot topic of conversation and gossip in the ranks of the film industry.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor

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All the Buzz on Film Festival Awards, Celebrity Tributes and the Film Awards Season.

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