By Indiewire | Indiewire December 16, 2003 at 2:0AM
NY Critics Crown "King" Top Film of '03; SF & Boston Critics Also Weigh In
by Eugene Hernandez
"The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" was named best picture of the year by the 35 member New York Film Critics Circle, the nation's leading critics organization. The New Line film, the third installment in the "Lord of the Rings" saga, is debuting in theaters on Tuesday night with special midnight screenings.
"Lost In Translation" from Focus Features nabbed two prizes, winning a best actor award for Bill Murray and a best director prize for Sofia Coppola. Insiders noted that she is the first American woman to receive the honor from the New York critics; Jane Campion from Australia is also a past winner.
Year-end awards hopefuls "Mystic River," "21 Grams," "Cold Mountain," "In America," and "The Last Samurai" were among the movies shunned by the NYC critics group this year. Film critics in San Francisco and Boston also announced awards. San Francisco critics and New York's online film critics group chose "Lost in Translation" as their top film, while Boston critics selected "Mystic River" as their favorite. Critics in Los Angeles and Chicago has decided to cancel their honors as a result of the MPAA screener ban but both groups recently confirmed that they will indeed present awards this year.
"It was a great year for all kinds of movies and I think the diversity of our choices reflect that," offered NYFCC chairman and Radar film critic Andrew Johnston in a statement Monday.
The New York prize for best screenplay went to Craig Lucas for "The Secret Lives of Dentists." The film was also named in the best actress category; Hope Davis nabbed the nod for her work in "Dentists" and in Fine Line's "American Splendor."
"Splendor" was also awarded the prize for best first film. It marks the narrative feature debut of directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the duo also directed the doc feature, "Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's."
"City of God" from Miramax, which has been playing in New York City since its debut in January, won the award for best foreign film.
The award for best documentary went to Andrew Jarecki's "Capturing the Friedmans" from Magnolia Pictures. The doc has been a critical favorite since its debut over the summer.
The awards for best animated film went to "The Triplets of Belleville" from Sony Pictures Classics.
In supporting actor categories, Eugene Levy was selected for his work on "A Mighty Wind" from Warner Bros. while Shohreh Aghdashloo was honored as supporting actress for her work in "House of Sand and Fog" from Dreamworks.
Harris Savides was named best cinematographer of the year for his work on two Gus Van Sant films, "Elephant" and "Gerry."
The New York critics will present their annual awards at a dinner in Manhattan on January 11.