Movie race wide open ahead of key awards week
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".
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 U.S. critics and independent movie groups, and have shown little broad consensus ahead of the coveted Oscar race.
"It is all over the place this year. We don't have an obvious front runner yet," said Tom O'Neil, of Hollywood awards site www.TheEnvelope.com.
O'Neil saw Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and the Fellini-inspired musical "Nine" leading the pack at the Golden Globe nominations on Tuesday after they both got 10 nods from the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) on Monday.
He said both movies could do well at Oscar time. Oscar nominations are announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in early February and handed out on March 7. Continued...