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Crowe's naval epic sinks Jackson's Rings at London Film Critics' Awards 2004

Story by: Jack Foley

RUSSELL Crowe’s naval epic, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, has been named as best film, ahead of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, by the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards.

The surprise award, which was announced on Wednesday, February 11, was one of three that Peter Weir’s movie won, while Jackson’s epic, seen by many as the Oscar favourite, failed to pick up a single accolade.

The critics put their selections down to the fact that ‘the British are an island race, which is probably why Master and Commander swept the board’.

William Russell, chairman of the critics' circle, said: "You can almost taste the salt in the air. Director, Peter Weir, as well as handling spectacular scenes of storms at sea, also secured memorable performances from a huge cast, headed by Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany."

Needless to say, the hugely-impressive Bettany was named best British actor, while Weir and John Collee jointly took the prize for best screenwriter.

Of the other notable winners, Clint Eastwood was named best director, for Mystic River, while Sean Penn took best actor, and Bill Nighy and Emma Thompson picked up supporting honours for Richard Curtis’ Love Actually.

Anne Reid was named best British actress for The Mother, while Peter Mullan was named best British director for controversial Catholic drama, The Magdalene Sisters, which also won the Attenborough Award for best British film.

The London Film Critics' Circle is comprised of 100 reviewers, who write for newspapers and magazines published all over the UK.

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