"Hurt Locker" gains traction in awards heavy week

Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:00pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Independently-made Iraq war movie "The Hurt Locker" won a second key film critics award on Monday in a week heavy with nominations that are likely to set the stage for the Oscars.

The New York Film Critics Circle named "The Hurt Locker" -- about U.S. bomb disposal experts in Iraq -- its film of the year and gave Kathryn Bigelow her second directing award in two days. Bigelow and the movie also won honors on Sunday from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

George Clooney was named best actor by the New York circle for his roles in both "Up In The Air" and for voice work in animated movie "Fantastic Mr.Fox". Veteran Meryl Streep was a surprise choice for best actress playing television chef Julia Child in "Julie and Julia".

But some of the most influential choices will come on Tuesday this week with the Golden Globe nominations, and on Thursday when the Screen Actors Guild announces its list of contenders for the top movies and performances of 2009.

Until now, most nominations and awards have been picked by various U.S. critics and independent movie groups, and have shown little broad consensus.

Earlier on Monday, the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) gave Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and the Fellini-inspired musical "Nine" a leading 10 nominations each.

Costly and eagerly-anticipated fantasy, sci-fi movie "Avatar" was close behind with nine BFCA nods and "The Hurt Locker" picked up eight.

Taken together, critics awards and nominations often give a movie momentum heading into the race for Oscars -- the movie industry's most coveted awards given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on March 7, 2010. Oscar nominations are announced in early February.   Continued...

<p>U.S. director Kathryn Bigelow takes a picture during a red carpet event at the Venice Film Festival September 4, 2008. "The Hurt Locker" by Bigelow is shown in competition at the festival. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (ITALY)</p>