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Boston critics name 'Mystic River' best picture

The Boston Society of Film Critics named the Clint Eastwood drama-mystery "Mystic River" the best film of 2003 in a private meeting on Sunday afternoon. Sofia Coppola won the directing award for "Lost in Translation," over Eastwood and Peter Jackson, who was the first runner-up for the third installment of "The Lord of Rings." "Lost in Translation" came in second in both the best film and screenplay categories, the latter of which was won by Shari Springer Berman and Bob Pulcini for "American Splendor," a film about the life of comic-book artist Harvey Pekar.

 

Written by Coppola, "Lost in Translation" tells the story of a famous middle-age actor who forges an emotional bond with a recent college grad in a Tokyo hotel. The movie's stars, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, were voted best actor and actress. The runners-up in the lead acting categories were Sean Penn for his performance as a bereaved and vengeful father in "Mystic River" and Naomi Watts as a bereaved and vengeful mother in "21 Grams."

The winner in the supporting actor category was Peter Sarsgaard, who played New Republic editor Chuck Lane in "Shattered Glass." Patricia Clarkson won the supporting actress award for her work in two comedies: "The Station Agent," in which she plays a moody artist, and "Pieces of April," where she is cast as a sarcastic cancer patient trying to steer her family through Thanksgiving dinner prepared by her ne'er-do-well daughter. Alec Baldwin was the supporting actor runner-up for "The Cooler" and France's Ludivine Sagnier was the supporting actress runner-up for her work as a nubile troublemaker in "Swimming Pool."

In a new category, "Mystic River" won for best ensemble cast. The award is meant to recognize a film that contains a number of strong individual performances. "A Mighty Wind," an improvised farce about the folk-music world, was second.

Sylvain Chomet's loopy animated adventure from France, "The Triplets of Belleville," was the winner in the foreign film category. Gaspar Noe's violent, backward-running "Irreversible" was the runner-up here as well as in the cinematography category, which was won by the crew who shot "Winged Migration," about the geographic flight patterns of birds.

It was generally agreed that it was not the best year for fiction features and that the real excitement was for the many high quality documentary films. The winner was "Capturing the Friedmans," Andrew Jarecki's family drama that recounts a child molestation case made against a Long Island father and one of his sons. Jarecki also won the best new filmmaker award. Chomet came in second. "The Fog of War," Errol Morris's profile of former secretary of defense Robert McNamara, was the documentary runner-up.

The Boston Society of Film Critics, which has been giving out awards since 1981, recognized the year's five best local film series. They were: "After the War/ Before the Wall: German Film 1945-1960"; "Charlotte Zwerin: Straight No Chaser"; the Independent Film Festival of Boston; "The Lubitsch Touch"; and "People We Like: Remembering Romy."

The group also cited best discoveries and rediscovered films: "Bad Day at Black Rock," in the "Genre Film of the '50s" series at the Brattle; "Investigation of a Citizen Beyond Suspicion," in "The Films of Elio Petri" at the Harvard Film Archive; "Ripley's Game" and "Love and Diane," both of which debuted locally at the Boston International Festival of Women's Cinema; and "Wattstax," which ran at Loews Copley Place.

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