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LA Film Critics honour American Splendor and Murray



Story by: Jack Foley

PAUL Giamatti’s American Splendor has been voted the best film of 2003 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

The film, about idiosyncratic comic book artist, Harvey Pekar, also won best screenplay, to complete a good couple of weeks for the independent movie - it also won two prizes from the New York critics, five Independent Spirit nominations, and one Golden Globe nomination for supporting actress Hope Davis. In addition, it was named film of the year by the National Society of Film Critics in the US.

The LA-based critics, who had originally cancelled the awards in a row over DVD previews with the major film studios, also awarded Peter Jackson the best director accolade for his final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King.

The best actor prize went to Bill Murray, for his sublime turn in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, while Naomi Watts deservedly won best actress, for 21 Grams.

Another richly deserved award will be presented to British actor, Bill Nighy, who was named best supporting actor for his work in four movies, AKA, I Capture the Castle, Lawless Heart and Love Actually, while Iranian actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo, was named best supporting actress for House of Sand and Fog.

Girl With A Pearl Earring won the best cinematography award, while the film's 19-year-old star, Scarlett Johansson, who also appears in Lost in Translation, received a special ‘new generation’ prize.

The Return of the King also won an accolade for best production design, while Belleville Rendez-vous - known as The Triplets of Belleville in the US - won two awards, for best animation and best music/score.

The critics opted to revive their awards only after the major film studios were forced to lift their ban on preview DVDs being sent to awards' judges by a court order.

They will be presented on January 26 - one day before the Oscar nominations are released.

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