Film reviewers in Los Angeles unveiled the year's first list of critics' picks, naming Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" the best film of 2005. The news came this weekend as the movie, about a pair of Wyoming ranch hands who unexpectedly fall in love in 1963, opened in limited release and racked up sizable grosses from just five venues. "Brokeback" was also honored with a leading eight nominations for the Critics Choice Awards (chosen by broadcast film critics), selected as best picture and director by film critics in Boston, and named one of the best films of the year by the American Film Institute.
"Brokeback" earned an estimated $544,275 at five venues, according to Focus Features, for a significant per screen average of $108,855 that is being touted as the highest ever for an adult drama (topped only by limited release openings of kid-oriented Disney fare). It is expected to expand further on Friday.
The announcement by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assocation was the first of a wave of notices by groups of reviewers. The Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and New York's online critics named their nominees Sunday, while the American Film Institute announced its Top Ten.
The announcements pave the way for the anticipated decision Monday by the influential New York Film Critics Circle. Also anticipated is the Golden Globe nominations to be announced Tuesday by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Back in Los Angeles, David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" was a runner-up to "Brokeback Mountain" in both the best picture and best director categories, with actor William Hurt named best supporting actor by the L.A. group. Another awards contender expected to figure into coming critic announcements is Bennett Miller's "Capote." The film was honored with a best actor award from the Los Angeles critics, while Catherine Keener was singled out as best supporting actress for her work in "Capote" and a number of other titles. Writer Dan Futterman shared the screenwriting prize from the L.A. group with Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale"). Among the indies honored by the L.A. group include Vera Farmiga, who won the award for best actress for her role in Debra Granick's "Down To the Bone," beating out Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents."
The complete list of Los Angeles Film Critics Assocation honorees follows:
Best Picture: "Brokeback Mountain"
Runner-up: "A History of Violence"
Best Director: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
Runner-up: David Cronenberg (A History of Violence)"
Best Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"
Runner-up: Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"
Best Actress: Vera Farmiga, "Down to the Bone"
Runner-up: Dame Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"
Best Supporting Actor: William Hurt, "A History of Violence"
Runner-up: Frank Langella, "Good Night, and Good Luck"
Best Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", "Capote", "The Ballad of Jack and Rose", & "The Interpreter"
Runner-up: Amy Adams, "June Bug"
Best Screenplay (TIED): "Capote" (Dan Futterman), "The Squid and the Whale" (Noah Baumbach)
Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit, "Good Night, and Good Luck"
Runner-up: Chris Doyle, Kwan Pun Leung, & Yiu-Fai Lai, "2046"
Best Production Design: William Chang, "2046"
Runner-up: James D. Bissell, "Good Night, And Good Luck"
Best Music Score: Joe Hisaishi, "Howl's Moving Castle"
Runner-up: Ryuichi Sakamoto, "Tony Takatani"
Best Foreign-Language Film: "Cache", Directed by Michael Haneke
Runner-up: "2046", Directed by Wong Kar Wai
Best Documentary/Non-Fiction Film: "Grizzly Man", Directed by Werner Herzog
Runner-up: "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room", Directed by Alex Gibney
Best Animation: "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit", Directed by: Nick Park & Steve Box
The Douglas Edwards Experimental/Independent Film/Video Award: "La Commune (Paris 1871)" Directed by Peter Watkins
New Generation Award: Terrence Howard
Career Achievement Award: Richard Widmark
To Kevin Thomas for his contribution to film culture in Los Angeles.
To David Shepard, Bruce Posner and the Anthology Film Archive to honor "Unseen Cinema", an unprecedented 8-disc collection of films from 1894-1941.