George Clooney will present the prize to the Oscar winner at the 17th annual Broadcast Film Critics Association gala.
Penn becomes the fifth person to receive the award.
Also honoured on Thursday will be Martin Scorsese, who is to receive the Music & Film Award.
The two films, which have already picked up early awards, will compete for the Best Picture at the 17th annual Critics' Choice Awards, as selected by the Broadcast Film Critics Association in America.
They will be up against Midnight in Paris, Drive, The Help, Moneyball, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Tree of Life and War Horse.
George Clooney (The Descendants), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Ryan Gosling (Drive), Brad Pitt (Moneyball), Michael Fassbender (Shame) and Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) will compete for the Best Actor prize.
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Viola Davis (The Help), Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Charlize Theron (Young Adult) and Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) make up the Best Actress category.
Christopher Plummer, Albert Brooks, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Nolte, Patton Oswalt, Andy Serkis, Octavia Spencer, Shailene Woodley, Berenice Bejo, Melissa McCarthy, Jessica Chastain and Carey Mulligan will compete for the supporting actor and actress prizes.
Meanwhile, Alexander Payne (The Descendants), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive), Steven Spielberg (War Horse), Martin Scorsese (Hugo) and Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) will fight it out for Best Director.
The Critics' Choice Awards take place on 12 January (12).
Top Story: Law Wants Penn To Win Oscar
Jude Law, nominated for best actor for his portrayal of Confederate soldier Inman in Cold Mountain, wants Sean Penn to win the statuette instead of him, The Associated Press reports. "I've always loved Sean Penn's work. He's someone I've respected and looked up to and admired for years and years and years, and I think it should be his year," Law told reporters at the Berlin International Film Festival Wednesday. Penn earned his fourth Oscar nomination for his role as a bereaved father in Clint Eastwood's critically acclaimed tragedy, Mystic River. He has never appeared at an Academy Awards show, but says he plans to this year. Law is in Berlin promoting Cold Mountain which opened the festival, but is not in competition. This is Law's second Oscar nomination, having been nominated in the best supporting actor category in 2000 for his role as the roguish Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley. He is expected to be in attendance at this year's ceremony later this month.
Garfunkel Pleads Guilty in Marijuana Case
In a reversal of his original plea, Art Garfunkel has pleaded guilty to marijuana possession, Reuters reports. Garfunkel, who comprised one half of the popular '60s duo Simon and Garfunkel, was charged with marijuana possession after his limo was pulled over for speeding January 17th in Hurley, New York, and 6 grams of marijuana were found in the singer's jacket pocket. His driver received a ticket and Garfunkel was given the choice of contesting the marijuana charge or paying a $100 fine. Initially Garfunkel wished to plead "not guilty" and a hearing was set for Feb. 11. His lawyer then changed Garfunkel's plea and paid the fine a week early. Garfunkel did not appear in court.
Master Takes Command at British Critics' Awards
Peter Weir's seafaring epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World took top honors at this year's London Film Critics' Circle awards, winning three awards and completely routing favorite The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Reuters reports. The Russell Crowe starrer took best picture, best British actor (Paul Bettany), and best screenwriting (John Collee and Peter Weir) awards at the annual ceremony held by British film critics who write for newspapers throughout England. Best director (Clint Eastwood) and actor (Sean Penn) awards went to Mystic River with the best actress award going to Julianne Moore for Far From Heaven.
German Director Decries "Primitive" Reception of Film at Berlin Fest
Director Romuald Karmakar expressed his displeasure with the less-than-ideal reaction to his film Nightsongs at the Berlin Film Festival yesterday, Reuters reports. The film, a tragedy based on a play by Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, suffered many audience walkouts during the screening and many in the audience laughed during the conclusion of the gloomy love story about two lovers who are about to run off together when the woman's husband kills himself by jumping out a window. "It's getting too primitive here and I'm sick and tired of it," Karmakar said of the audience's reaction, "How far have we fallen?" He went on to explain, "It's a love story, just without a happy ending. You find that everywhere but it's underrepresented in movies. Reality is full of problems. We have four million unemployed in Germany."
Majority of Americans Believe Jackson Reveal Intentional
Janet Jackson intended to reveal her breast during the Super Bowl halftime show as a publicity stunt, a poll conducted by Billboard.com suggests. Of the 8,307 polled, 65 percent believed right from the get-go that Jackson fully intended Justin Timberlake to rip off her bustier cup and show her naked breast to the world, while 35 percent believe that the full exposure was unintentional. Both Jackson and Timberlake have since apologized for the incident, though they have repeatedly said the breast fallout was due to a "wardrobe malfunction." The Federal Communications Commission is investigating the incident, so as to punish the guilty and protect the nation's fragile eyes.
Aguilera, Elliott To Pitch Viva Glam
Makeup addict Christina Aguilera, along with Missy Elliott, Linda Evangelista, Chloe Sevigny and Boy George, will pitch Viva Glam, a makeup line that funds HIV/AIDS programs. All proceeds from the MAC-owned Viva Glam V Lipgloss and Lipstick will go to care of people afflicted with AIDS as well as awareness and prevention programs. Since the Viva Glam collection debuted in 1994, over $32 million has been raised from sales of the lip products. MAC president John Demsey said the most recent collection of models were chosen because they represent the many faces of AIDS victims, who are "all ages, all races, all sexes". The lipgloss and lipstick will be available starting next month.
Yao Ming Top Chinese Celebrity
According to Forbes magazine's Chinese edition, Houston Rockets star Yao Ming is the top Chinese celebrity of the year, AP reports. The magazine based its list on the celebrity's exposure in the media and their income for the year. Ming earned $14.6 million last year, placing him second to action star Jet Li, who earned $17 million, but ranked 10th overall.