Broadcast Critics Honor Brokeback
The nation's broadcast film critics voted Brokeback its best picture at its 11th annual Critics' Choice Awards and also named the film's creator, Taiwanese-born Ang Lee, as the year's best director. Michelle Williams, who plays an emotionally ignored wife in the movie, tied for best supporting actress with Amy Adams of Junebug.
But Crash, a tale of endemic racism in America, took two major awards, an indication that this may be the film that could challenge Ang Lee's drama of forbidden love between two married men on the road to the March 5 Oscars.
Brokeback Mountain was nominated for eight Critics' Choice Awards, followed by Crash with six. Some Oscar pundits are insisting that Brokeback's theme of homosexual love will ultimately be rejected by mainstream Oscar voters.
Director Lee and producer Diana Ossama insisted that the movie's theme was about loneliness and the different paths love can take. "We trusted the tale and it led us to where it wanted to go ... we are getting a better reception than we thought," Lee told reporters after the awards.
The lead acting prizes honored portrayals of historical characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman was named best actor for portraying novelist Truman Capote in Capote, while Reese Witherspoon was cited for her role as country music matriarch June Carter Cash in Walk the Line.
Other key winners included Paul Giamatti for his supporting role as boxing trainer in Cinderella Man, a film whose Oscar chances have been handicapped by poor box office and star Russell Crowe's misdemeanor conviction for throwing a telephone at a hotel clerk.
Giamatti went to great pains to tell reporters that acting with Crowe was one of the joys of his life.
"We were like one," he said.
Brokeback Mountain, which has been a box office hit playing in limited release across the country, has already been named best picture by the New York and Los Angeles film critics organizations. It goes into the Golden Globe Awards next Monday with a leading seven nominations.
Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 31.
The Critics' Choice Awards was organized by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which bills itself as the largest such group in North America, with 200 members from the television, radio and online worlds.
Up until last year, the Critics' Choice had an enviable record of picking eventual Oscar winners: its last five best picture winners went on to take the top prize at the Academy Awards, as did eight of the last nine directors. But last year, voters chose Sideways for best picture, and Martin Scorsese for director, while the Oscar went with Million Dollar Baby and its director, Clint Eastwood.
(additional reporting by Dean Goodman)