L.A. Film Critics Pick “Schmidt”

As critics and other dole out this year’s film honors, Oscar front-runners are headed in varying directions.

The Los Angeles Film Critics chose Alexander Payne‘s dark comedy About Schmidt Saturday as 2002’s best film. The film centers on a retired man who learns a few life lessons while on a soul-searching journey across the country. Runners up were Todd Haynes‘ melodrama Far From Heaven and Stephen Daldry‘s Virginia Woolf opus The Hours.

The L.A. Film Critics also chose Julianne Moore as best actress for her performances as a depressed 1950s housewife in The Hours and a picture-perfect 1950s housewife in Far From Heaven, with French actress Isabelle Huppert taking the runner-up spot for her emotional portrayal in the Holocaust drama The Piano Teacher.

Best actor honors were shared by Daniel Day-Lewis for his performance as the malevolent gang leader in Gangs of New York and Jack Nicholson‘s tour-de-force as the 66-year-old Schmidt in About Schmidt.

Spanish director Pedro Almodovar was chosen as the year’s top director for his moving relationship drama Talk to Her. The runner-up wasHaynes for Far From Heaven.

Chris Cooper was named best supporting actor for Adaptation with Christopher Walken as the runner-up for Catch Me If You Can. Edie Falco was the favorite supporting actress for Sunshine State followed by Kathy Bates for About Schmidt.

Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor won best screenplay accolades for About Schmidt with Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman runner-ups for Adaptation. Best foreign language film went to Mexican hit Y Tu Mama Tambien, followed by Talk to Her.

Last week the National Board of Review picked The Hours as best film of the year, widening the rift for what may take Academy Award nominations for Best Picture. Only Moore stands as a clear Oscar favorite, as she also won the best actress honors from the National Board of Review.

The Los Angeles Critics Association is comprised of 50 local movie reviewers and are among the first major critic organizations to announce their choices for 2002’s best in film. Still to come this week are the New York Film Critics Circle picks and the Golden Globe nominations, which will be announced Dec. 19.