The Iraq War drama "The Hurt Locker" was chosen as the year's best picture Sunday by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The film also won the group's best-director honor for Kathryn Bigelow.
The group named Jeff Bridges as best actor for the country-music tale "Crazy Heart" and Yolande Moreau as best actress for the French film "Seraphine." The lead-actor runners-up were Colin Firth for "A Single Man" and Carey Mulligan for "An Education."
Mo'Nique won the supporting-actress award for "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire" and Christoph Waltz earned the supporting-actor prize for "Inglourious Basterds." The runners-up for the supporting honors were Anna Kendrick for "Up in the Air" and Peter Capaldi for "In the Loop."
The critics' prizes are among early honors on Hollywood's long run-up to the Academy Awards on March 7. Oscar nominations come out Feb. 2.
The awards are part of a flurry of honors— among them the New York Film Critics Circle prizes Monday and the Golden Globe nominations Tuesday — that help shape the Oscar picture by reinforcing front-runners or calling attention to overlooked films and performances.
While audiences generally have shied away from war-on-terror dramas, "The Hurt Locker" did solid business and earned glowing reviews. The film stars Jeremy Renner as a U.S. bomb technician in Iraq so addicted to his dangerous job that he puts the lives of colleagues at risk.
George Clooney's comedy "Up in the Air" was runner-up for best picture. Clooney's busy year did produce a win, though, as the critics picked his "Fantastic Mr. Fox" as the year's best animated film. The blockbuster "Up" was the animation runner-up.
"Up in the Air" director Jason Reitman and writer Sheldon Turner shared the screenplay prize. The runners-up were Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche for "In the Loop."
The French family tale "Summer Hours" was named as best foreign-language film, with the Austrian drama "The White Ribbon" earning the runner-up honor.
The critics group gave its New Generation award to Neill Blomkamp, director of the surprise summer hit "District 9."
Among other winners:
— Music/score: T Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton, "Crazy Heart." Runner-up, Alexandre Desplat, "Fantastic Mr. Fox."
— Production design: Philip Ivey, "District 9." Runner-up, Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg, "Avatar."
— Cinematography: Christian Berger, "The White Ribbon." Runner-up, Barry Ackroyd, "The Hurt Locker."
— Documentary/nonfiction film: "The Beaches of Agnes" and "The Cove" (tie).
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