NEW YORK (Reuters) - “The Hurt Locker,” an independently made film about U.S. bomb disposal experts in Iraq, picked up several more awards on Sunday when the National Society of Film Critics chose it as the best film of 2009, solidifying its status among favored Oscar contenders.
The movie also yielded honors for its director, Kathryn Bigelow, while Jeremy Renner won best actor for his breakout role as a cocky bomb technician.
Both the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association had already chosen the film and Bigelow for their top prizes.
French productions won several of the critics’ top awards. Yolande Moreau was named best actress for “Seraphine,” based on the life of French painter Seraphine de Senlis, while “Summer Hours” won for best foreign-language film.
Best non-fiction film went to “The Beaches of Agnes,” a documentary about the life of director Agnes Varda, who was married to director Jacques Demy.
Mo’Nique was named best supporting actress for her acclaimed performance as an abusive mother in “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,” while Christoph Waltz won for his supporting turn as a Nazi in “Inglourious Basterds.”
Joel and Ethan Coen won the screenwriting award for “A Serious Man.”
Shut out of the 44th annual awards were such highly touted films as Jason Reitman’s “Up In the Air,” James Cameron’s “Avatar” and Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus.”
The National Society of Film Critics includes more than 60 members from major newspapers in Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Chicago as well as from Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker and Salon.com.
The group’s pick for top film last year was the relatively obscure Israeli film cartoon “Waltz with Bashir.” The year before, it went with “There Will be Blood.”
Critics’ awards help build momentum heading toward the Academy Awards, for which nominations are announced on February 2.
Editing by Dean Goodman