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George Clooney & Viggo Mortensen: Awards Season's Unexpected & Expected

Utah Film Critics' Viggo Mortensen in The Road: Surprise Best Actor win for apocalyptic world heroUtah Film Critics' Best Actor winner Viggo Mortensen in The Road. The performer best known for playing Aragorn in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Viggo Mortensen was the surprise Best Actor choice in Utah. In John Hillcoat's The Road, he portrays a man struggling to survive with his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in a desolate, freezing cold, post-apocalyptic world where global warming is no longer an issue. Also in The Road: Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Molly Parker, Michael Kenneth Williams, Garret Dillahunt, and veteran Robert Duvall (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now). Joe Penhall adapted Cormac McCarthy's 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Utah Film Critics awards: 'Up in the Air' up on top again while Viggo Mortensen surprises

The Utah Film Critics Association announced its list of 2009 award winners and runners-up on Dec. 18. (See further below the full list of the Utah Film Critics' winners and runners-up.)

Jason Reitman's socially conscious Up in the Air was named the Best Film of the year, while Reitman was voted Best Director in a category that to date has been dominated by Kathryn Bigelow for the Iraq War thriller The Hurt Locker.

In the Up in the Air cast:

George Clooney. Vera Farmiga. Anna Kendrick. Jason Bateman. Amy Morton. J.K. Simmons.

Melanie Lynskey. Sam Elliott. Danny McBride. Chris Lowell. Zach Galifianakis.

Carey Mulligan was the Utah Film Critics' Best Actress for her performance as a young woman involved with an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) in Lone Scherfig's An Education, while Viggo Mortensen, playing a concerned father in John Hillcoat's dystopian The Road, was Utah's quite unexpected Best Actor.

Equally surprising was the Best Actress runner-up: Maya Rudolph for Sam Mendes' Away We Go.

'Thirst' & Christian McKay: More Utah Film Critics surprises

Besides Viggo Mortensen and runner-up Maya Rudolph, the Utah Film Critics came up with surprises in other categories as well.

Park Chan-wook's Korean vampire thriller Thirst was the Best Foreign Language Film, while the Best Supporting Actor winner was Christian McKay, who plays Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons filmmaker Orson Welles in Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles, starring Zac Efron and Claire Danes.

Curiously, The Hurt Locker, this awards season's favorite film and the no. 1 contender for the Best Picture Oscar, failed to top any of the Utah Film Critics' award categories. The same happened on Dec. 17, when the Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics announced their choices. (See further below.)

Having said that, the Iraq War drama did end up as the second choice for Best Picture and Best Actor (Jeremy Renner).

As for Utah's Best Supporting Actress, the expected winner was critics' fave Mo'Nique for playing Gabourey Sidibe's abusive mother in Lee Daniels' Precious.

Thirst with Song Kang-ho Kim Ok-bin: Park Chan-wook vampire love triangle is no TwilightThirst by Park Chan-wook, with Song Kang-ho and Kim Ok-bin. Loosely based on Emile Zola's Thérèse Raquin, the South Korean-made Thirst revolves around a love triangle featuring a vampire. No, Park's film has nothing to do with the Twilight movies. Instead of teen/centenarian angst and vampire/werewolf rivalries, the more adult-oriented Thirst follows a Catholic priest (Song Kang-ho) who falls in love with the wife (Kim Ok-bin) of his childhood friend (Shin Ha-kyun). Things get more complicated after a failed experiment turns the priest into a vampire who, much to his chagrin, finds himself drinking away his hospital's blood supply. Kim Hae-suk plays Kim's domineering mother-in-law.

Utah Film Critics winners

Best Picture: Up in the Air.

Runners-up: The Hurt Locker. Inglourious Basterds.

Best Non-English Language Feature: Thirst.

Runner-up: Sin Nombre, dir.: Cary Fukunaga (as Cary Jôji Fukunaga).

Best Documentary Feature: The Cove, dir.: Louie Psihoyos.

Runner-up: Anvil! The Story of Anvil, dir.: Sacha Gervasi.

Best Director: Jason Reitman, Up in the Air.

Runner-up: John Hillcoat, The Road.

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, An Education.

Runner-up: Maya Rudolph, Away We Go.

Best Actor: Viggo Mortensen, The Road.

Runner-up: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles.

Runner-up: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique, Precious.

Runner-up: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air.

Best Screenplay: Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Runners-up: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer. Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds.

Best Animated Feature: Fantastic Mr. Fox, dir.: Wes Anderson.

Runner-up: Up, dir.: Pete Docter.

Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics George Clooney in Up in the Air: Best Actor winner with Vera FarmigaDallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics' Best Actor winner George Clooney in Up in the Air, with Vera Farmiga. Former television actor (ER) turned major movie star (Ocean's Eleven, Michael Clayton), George Clooney is this year's favorite Best Actor pick among U.S.-based critics groups. He's a shoo-in Academy Award nominee – and, in fact, has a good chance of taking home his second Oscar statuette in the acting categories. His first was handed to him back at the 2006 ceremony, when (a plurality of voting) Academy members named Clooney the year's Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a rough operator in Stephen Gaghan's political drama Syriana.

Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics winners: George Clooney & 'Up in the Air'

The Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics Association Awards were announced on Dec. 17. Jason Reitman's Up in the Air was selected as the Best Film of 2009, while its frequent-flying star, George Clooney, was the year's Best Actor. Reitman himself was the Best Director. (See further below the full list of Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics winners and runners-up.)

Both Up in the Air and director Reitman also topped the Utah Film Critics Association Awards (see above). Another Utah/Dallas-Ft. Worth match was the Best Actress choice: Carey Mulligan for An Education.

Critics' favorite Christoph Waltz was the Best Supporting Actor winner for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, while another critics' favorite (and Utah winner), Mo'Nique, received top honors in the Best Supporting Actress category for Precious.

Pete Docter's lighthearted box office hit Up was the Best Animated Film. At the other end of the feel-good scale, Louie Psihoyos' The Cove, about the bloody slaughter of dolphins in a small Japanese fishing village, was the Best Documentary.

'Sin Nombre' wins, 'The Hurt Locker' doesn't

Cary Fukunaga's Sin Nombre was the Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics' Best Foreign Language Film. The story of a Honduran adolescent (Paulina Gaitan) who joins her long-estranged father in an attempt to emigrate to the United States by way of Mexico, Sin Nombre also features Edgar Flores and Kristyan Ferrer as a pair Mexican gang members.

Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker – a critics' favorite this awards season – failed to top any of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics' award categories. Even so, Bigelow's Iraq War drama did end up as a runner-up in several instances, including Best Film.

2009 Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics Awards

Best Film: Up in the Air.

Runners-up:
The Hurt Locker.
Precious.
Up.
An Education.
A Serious Man.
Inglourious Basterds.
District 9.
Avatar.
Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Best Foreign Language Film: Sin Nombre.

Runners-up:
Broken Embraces.
Summer Hours.
The Baader Meinhof Complex.
Red Cliff.

Best Documentary: The Cove.

Runners-up:
Anvil! The Story of Anvil.
Capitalism: A Love Story.
Michael Jackson's This Is It.
Burma VJ & The September Issue (tie).

Best Director: Jason Reitman, Up in the Air.

Runners-up:
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.
Lee Daniels, Precious.
Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man.
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds.

Best Actor: George Clooney, Up in the Air.

Runners-up:
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart.
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker.
Colin Firth, A Single Man.
Morgan Freeman, Invictus.

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, An Education.

Runners-up:
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia.
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria.
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds.

Runners-up:
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger.
Alfred Molina, An Education.
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones.
Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles.

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique, Precious.

Runners-up:
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air.
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air.
Marion Cotillard, Nine.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart.

Best Screenplay: Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air.

Runner-up: Joel & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man.

Best Cinematography: Andrew Lesnie, The Lovely Bones.

Runner-up: Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker.

Best Animated Film: Up.

Runner-up: Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Russell Smith Award for Best Low Budget or Cutting Edge Indie: Precious.

Sin Nombre with Edgar Flores: US critics fave Best Foreign Language Film ineligible for Academy AwardSin Nombre with Edgar Flores. Cary Jôji Fukunaga's immigration drama Sin Nombre has become U.S.-based critics groups' top pick in the category reserved for films not in the English language. Ironically, Sin Nombre – as a partly U.S.-financed production directed and written by a U.S. national – is ineligible for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Besides 2009 Stockholm Film Festival Best Actor winner Edgar Flores, Sin Nombre also features Paulina Gaitan, Kristyan Ferrer, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Diana García, and Gerardo Taracena.

Houston Film Critics winners: No surprises

There are no surprises, major or otherwise, to be found on the Houston Film Critics Society's list of the very best 2009 had to offer.

Critics' faves The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air received three mentions each. The former for Best Film, Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow), and Best Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd); the latter for Best Actor (George Clooney), Best Supporting Actress (Anna Kendrick), and Best Screenplay (Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner).

Other Houston Film Critics winners matched those found on Best of 2009 lists compiled by other U.S.-based critics' groups, including:

  • Cary Jôji Fukunaga's Sin Nombre as Best Foreign Language Film.
  • Carey Mulligan as Best Actress for An Education.
  • Critics' fave Christoph Waltz as Best Supporting Actor for Inglourious Basterds.
  • Pete Docter's Up as Best Animated Feature, in addition to earning composer Michael Giacchino an award for Best Original Score.
  • Louie Psihoyos' The Cove as Best Documentary.

Posthumous honor for Patrick Swayze

Houston native Patrick Swayze was a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, while the Outstanding Achievement Award went to veteran local publicist Margaret Stratton, who's retiring after decades representing film industry clients in the Houston area.

And finally, the 2009 Humanitarian of the Year Award was given to actor G.W. Bailey for his work with the Sunshine Kids Foundation.

Houston Film Critics winners

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker.

Best Foreign Language Film: Sin Nombre.

Best Documentary: The Cove.

Best Actor: George Clooney, Up in the Air.

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, An Education.

Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.

Best Screenplay: Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air.

Best Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker.

Best Animated Film: Up.

Best Original Score: Michael Giacchino, Up.

Best Original Song: “Petey's Song” from Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Patrick Swayze.

Outstanding Achievement Award: Margaret Stratton.

Humanitarian of the Year Award: G.W. Bailey.

 

Las Vegas Film Critics winners

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker.

Best Foreign Language Film: Red Cliff, dir.: John Woo.

Best Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.

Best Actor: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds.

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique, Precious.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.

Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted): Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer.

Best Documentary: Anvil: The Story of Anvil.

Best Animated Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Best Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker.

Best Film Editing: Bob Murawski, The Hurt Locker.

Best Score: Michael Giacchino, Star Trek.

Best Song: “The Weary Kind” (theme from Crazy Heart), music and lyrics by Ryan Bingham & T Bone Burnett.

Best Costume Design: Anna B. Sheppard, Inglorious Basterds.

Best Art Direction: Avatar.

Best Visual Effects: Star Trek.

Best Family Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Youth in Film: Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones.

The William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award: Cinematographer Roger Deakins.

Best DVD (Packaging, Design, and Content): The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition).

Directed by Victor Fleming, the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production of The Wizard of Oz features Judy Garland, Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton.

Upcoming awards season announcements

Dec. 17: The National Board of Review, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Screen Actors Guild, and critics from Los Angeles, Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto, among others, have already announced their lists of 2009 winners and/or nominees.

But that's not all, folks. Several more critics' groups are expected to come up with their year-end winners or nominees in the next couple of weeks.

Expect the expected

Expect to hear of more honors going to the same five or six films and the same five or six performances: The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, George Clooney in Up in the Air, Colin Firth in A Single Man, Carey Mulligan in An Education, Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia, Mo'Nique in Precious, Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds.

Expect either Up or Fantastic Mr. Fox to win more Best Animated Feature awards. Expect The Cove to get more accolades as Best Documentary. Expect Sin Nombre or Summer Hours to be named – once again – Best Foreign Language Film.

And expect Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner (for Up in the Air) and/or (“and” in case there are Original/Adapted categories) Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (for (500) Days of Summer) or Quentin Tarantino (for Inglourious Basterds) to be named Best Screenwriter(s) of 2009.

Expect the unexpected?

Expect also a few (always welcome) off-the-wall surprises as well.

Updated awards season schedule

Dec. 20 - Satellite Awards (winners).

Dec. 21 - London Film Critics (nominations).

Dec. 21 - Chicago Film Critics (winners).

Dec. 21 - St. Louis Film Critics (winners).

Dec. 21 - Florida Film Critics (winners).

Dec. 31 - Online Film Critics (nominations).

 

Utah Film Critics winners via Deseret News.

Houston Film Critics winners via culturemap.com.

Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics Association website.

Las Vegas Film Critics Society website.

Image of Utah Film Critics' Best Actor winner Viggo Mortensen in The Road: Dimension Films.

Image from Park Chan-wook's Thirst: Focus Features.

Vera Farmiga and George Clooney Up in the Air image: Dale Robinette / Paramount Pictures.

Edgar Flores Sin Nombre image: Eniac Martinez / Focus Features.


         
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