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Los Angeles Film Critics Awards: Surprises Galore Including AMOUR, Emmanuelle Riva

Los Angeles Film Critics Awards Emmanuelle Riva AmourLos Angeles Film Critics Awards 2012: Amour is surprise winner

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has become what the New York Film Critics Circle used to be from the late '60s to the early '80s. In other words, in recent years the Los Angeles Critics have often made "unusual" – i.e., non-U.S./Hollywood mainstream – choices in their various categories. This year, it's no different. (Image: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva Amour.) [Check out our Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards predictions in the Acting categories.]

Amour, Michael Haneke's French-Austrian-German drama about love, aging, and death, was the the L.A. Critics' surprising Best Film. Surprising indeed: Amour was neither the winner nor the runner-up for the LAFCA's Best Director and Best Screenplay awards. Haneke's drama is also only the third non-English-language film to receive top honors from the Los Angeles Critics, following Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2000 and Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language (but US-made) Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006.

Winner of the Palme d'Or earlier this year and the European Film Award about a week ago, Amour is the favorite to take home the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant, Best Actress co-winner Emmanuelle Riva (more on Riva below), and Isabelle Huppert star.

The L.A. Critics' Best Film runner-up was Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, about the complex relationship between a charismatic cult leader and a disturbed World War II veteran.

Veteran Emmanuelle Riva shares Best Actress Award

The 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva's Best Actress co-winner was 22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence for David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook. (No mention of Lawrence's other 2012 movie credits, Gary Ross' The Hunger Games and Mark Tonderai's House at the End of the Street.) Emmanuelle Riva, by the way, is the Los Angeles Critics' oldest Best Actress ever. Jennifer Lawrence is the second youngest, after Sandrine Bonnaire – the 19-year-old Best Actress winner for Vagabond in 1986. Which means that both the oldest and the youngest LAFCA winners to date are Frenchwomen.

Amour not 'foreign'

Curiously, the Best Foreign Language Film was Leos Carax's Holy Motors, followed by Joseph Cedar's Israeli drama Footnote. And that makes one wonder if the L.A. Critics watched an English-dubbed version of Amour. (Something along the same lines happened when in early 2007 the British Academy selected The Queen as Best Film, but The Last King of Scotland as Best British Film – when both were British productions in the running in both categories.)

Paul Thomas Anderson, Joaquin Phoenix among The Master winners

Kathryn Bigelow has received Best Director honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics, but the L.A. Critics selected instead Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master. This was Anderson's second Best Director win; five years ago he was given the award for There Will Be Blood. Bigelow, who had won in L.A. for The Hurt Locker in 2009, was this year's runner-up for the political thriller Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The Best Screenplay winner was Chris Terrio for his work on Ben Affleck's Argo, about the intricate rescue of several hostages in Iran. The runner-up was David O. Russell for the comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook, about an emotionally unstable man (Bradley Cooper) and his relationship issues.

New York Film Critics winner Daniel Day-Lewis is this awards-season favorite in the Best Actor category for Steven Spielberg's Universal-distributed Lincoln, a well-received box office hit. The Los Angeles Critics, however, have opted for Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled World War II veteran who becomes involved with a budding philosophical / religious cult in the Weinstein Company release The Master, a well-received box office disappointment. And the Best Actor runner-up wasn't Day-Lewis, either, but Denis Lavant in Leos Carax's acclaimed – but little-seen in the U.S. – "limo movie" Holy Motors.

["Emmanuelle Riva, Amour: Los Angeles Film Critics Winners" continues on the next page. See link below.]

Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva Amour photo: Sony Pictures Classics.

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