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2006 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards


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Eastwood Film Tops L.A. Critics List

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Actors Hiroshi Watanabe, as Lt. Colonel Fujita (far left) and Ken

Watanabe (center) as General Kuribayashi in a scene from the

World War II drama, 'Letters From Iwo Jima'

Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima," the second of his two World War II sagas this year, was picked as the Top Movie of 2006 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA). Set for release on December 20, "Letters From Iwo Jima" stars Ken Watanabe. The 2006 Los Angeles Critics Awards will be presented on Sunday, January 14.

"Letters From Iwo Jima" chronicles the battle from the perspective of Japanese soldiers defending the island against U.S. troops. The film comes just two months after Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers," which centers on the U.S. troops depicted in the legendary photo of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima.

The runner-up for best picture was "The Queen," a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family in crisis after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. "The Queen" earned the group's honors for Best Actress for Helen Mirren, Supporting Actor for Michael Sheen and Screenplay for Peter Morgan.

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Helen Mirren in 'The Queen'

The New York Film Critics Online Awards on Sunday also were dominated by "The Queen," which earned five honors: Best Picture, Best Actress for Mirren, Supporting Actor for Sheen, Director for Stephen Frears and Screenplay for Morgan.

Also Sunday, the American Film Institute released its picks for the year's Top 10 movies, including "Letters From Iwo Jima," the musical, "Dreamgirls," the September 11 drama, "United 93" and the outrageous comedy, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

The Los Angeles Critics Group split its Best Actor prize between Sacha Baron Cohen, who reprised his television character as a Kazakh journalist observing America in "Borat," and Forest Whitaker, who plays Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."

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Forest Whitaker in 'The Last King of Scotland'

The Supporting Actress honor went to Luminita Gheorghiu for "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu," a Romanian film about an elderly man quietly fading away as he's shuffled from hospital to hospital over the course of one night. "American Idol" newcomer Jennifer Hudson was named Runner-Up for her role as Effie White in "Dreamgirls"

Paul Greengrass was named Best Director for "United 93," with Eastwood the Runner-Up. Among other honors from the Los Angeles Critics include "Happy Feet" as Best Animated Film, "An Inconvenient Truth" as Best Documentary and "The Lives of Others" as Best Foreign Language film.

The flurry of film honors come at the start of Hollywood's long season leading up to the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 25. Critics picks often differ substantially from the films that ultimately triumph at the Oscars, though they do give a boost to the prospects of some films.

The New York Film Critics Circle releases its 2006 honors on Monday, December 11, while nominations for the Golden Globes, the biggest Hollywood prizes before the Oscars, are announced on Thursday, December 14.

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Brad Pitt in 'Babel'

The AFI's Top 10 list also included the ensemble story, "Babel," the fashion world satire, "The Devil Wears Prada," the gritty classroom drama, "Half Nelson," the animated penguin romp, "Happy Feet," the bank-heist thriller, "Inside Man" and the road-trip tale, "Little Miss Sunshine."

The AFI does not rank its picks for Best Films of the Year. The list was chosen by a panel of 13 filmmakers, critics, scholars and AFI trustees. Both Best Films and Best Television Shows will be honored at an AFI luncheon in Los Angeles on friday, January 12.

A separate AFI panel picked the group's Top 10 Television Shows of the Year which are "Battlestar Galactica," "Dexter," "Elizabeth I," "Friday Night Lights," "Heroes," "The Office," "South Park," "24," "The West Wing" and "The Wire."

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2006 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

Best Picture

Winner
"Letters From Iwo Jima"

Runner-up
"The Queen"

Best Director

Winner
Paul Greengrass
"United 93"


Runner-up
Clint Eastwood
"Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"


Best Actor
(Tie No Runner-Up)

Winners (Tie)
Sacha Baron Cohen
"Borat"


Forest Whitaker
"The Last King of Scotland"


Best Actress

Winner
Helen Mirren
"The Queen"


Runner-up
Penelope Cruz
"Volver"


Best Supporting Actor

Winner
Michael Sheen
"The Queen"


Runner-up
Sergi Lopez
"Pan's Labyrinth"


Best Supporting Actress

Winner
Luminita Gheorghiu
"The Death of Mr. Lazarescu"


Runner-up
Jennifer Hudson
"Dreamgirls"


Best Screenplay

Winner
"The Queen"
Screenwriter: Peter Morgan


Runner-up
"Little Miss Sunshine"
Screenwriter: Michael Arndt


Best Cinematography

Winner
Emmanuel Lubezki
"Children of Men"


Runner-up
Tom Stern
"Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"


Best Production Design

Winner
Eugenio Caballero
"Pan's Labyrinth"


Runner-up
Jim Clay and Geoffrey Kirkland
"Children of Men"


Best Music Score

Winner
Alexandre Desplat
"The Queen" and "The Painted Veil"


Runner-up
Thomas Newman
"The Good German" and "Little Children"


Best Foreign-Language Film

Winner
"The Lives of Others" German Title: ("Das Leben der Anderen")
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Country: Germany


Runner-up
"Volver" English Title: ("To Return")
Director: Pedro Almod
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