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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "No Country for Old Men," a gritty thriller about a killer who cuts a path of destruction across Texas, was named best film at the Critics Choice Awards on Monday, leaving contenders such as "Into the Wild" and "Juno" by the wayside.
"No Country" also took home the directing prize for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, while Spanish actor Javier Bardem was honored for his supporting role as a cold-blooded hitman with a novel means of dispatching his victims.
Britain's Daniel Day-Lewis was named best actor for his role as a tough oilman in "There Will Be Blood," and compatriot Julie Christie won best actress for playing an Alzheimer's victim in "Away With Her." Amy Ryan was honored for her supporting role as the deadbeat mother of a missing child in "Gone Baby Gone."
The Critics Choice Awards have an enviable track record as an Oscar predictor. In the past 12 years, half of the acting and best picture winners have gone on to claim Oscar glory, along with 75 percent of the directing winners.
But Bardem, an Oscar nominee in 2001 for his lead role in "Before Night Falls," was philosophical about his chances this time around.
"I don't think about Academy Awards, or anything. I'm from Spain," he told reporters backstage at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
The event, televised on cable channel VH1, is organized by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, a group of more than 200 television, radio and online critics in the United States and Canada.
Sean Penn's adventure saga "Into the Wild" went home empty-handed despite leading the field with seven nominations. The pregnant teen comedy "Juno," which had six nominations, had to settle for best writer (Diablo Cody) and best comedy.
"No Country" was among five pictures with five nominations each. Three others, legal thriller "Michael Clayton," bloody musical "Sweeney Todd" and period drama "Atonement," all were snubbed. Musical "Hairspray," also with five nominations, took home awards for best acting ensemble and best young actress.
"There Will Be Blood" also was a double-winner, with Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood winning for best composer.
The awards ceremony took place hours after the shock announcement that next Sunday's Golden Globes telecast would be canceled as a result of the Hollywood writers strike, which is now in its third month. Party plans and costume choices have been thrown into disarray.
"There are about 16 awards shows a year," said actor Don Cheadle, who received a special award in recognition of his efforts to publicize African genocide. "The Golden Globes is a glitzy one and it's one that is fun and they give liquor at the table and that's nice. I think the world will be all right."
In other categories, the French drama "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was named best foreign language film while director Michael Moore's health-care study "Sicko" was best documentary.
One of the year's biggest box office hits, "Ratatouille," about a rat who cooks in a French kitchen, was named best animated feature, and fairy tale "Enchanted" was singled out as best family film.
Afghan Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada was named best young actor for his role as a rape victim in "The Kite Runner," and best song went to the Irish musical romance "Once."
The Oscars, which are the world's top film honors, will be given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on February 24.