“Hurt Locker” Wins LA Critics' Best Picture Prize

The Iraq War drama "The Hurt Locker" was chosen as the year's best picture Sunday by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The film also won the group's best-director honor for Kathryn Bigelow.

The group named Jeff Bridges as best actor for the country-music tale "Crazy Heart" and Yolande Moreau as best actress for the French film "Seraphine." The lead-actor runners-up were Colin Firth for "A Single Man" and Carey Mulligan for "An Education."

Mo'Nique won the supporting-actress award for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" and Christoph Waltz earned the supporting-actor prize for "Inglourious Basterds." The runners-up for the supporting honors were Anna Kendrick for "Up in the Air" and Peter Capaldi for "In the Loop."

The critics' prizes are among early honors on Hollywood's long run-up to the Academy Awards on March 7. Oscar nominations come out Feb. 2.

The awards are part of a flurry of honors— among them the New York Film Critics Circle prizes Monday and the Golden Globe nominations Tuesday — that help shape the Oscar picture by reinforcing front-runners or calling attention to overlooked films and performances.

While audiences generally have shied away from war-on-terror dramas, "The Hurt Locker" did solid business and earned glowing reviews. The film stars Jeremy Renner as a U.S. bomb technician in Iraq so addicted to his dangerous job that he puts the lives of colleagues at risk.

George Clooney's comedy "Up in the Air" was runner-up for best picture. Clooney's busy year did produce a win, though, as the critics picked his "Fantastic Mr. Fox" as the year's best animated film. The blockbuster "Up" was the animation runner-up.

"Up in the Air" director Jason Reitman and writer Sheldon Turner shared the screenplay prize. The runners-up were Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche for "In the Loop."

The French family tale "Summer Hours" was named as best foreign-language film, with the Austrian drama "The White Ribbon" earning the runner-up honor.

The critics group gave its New Generation award to Neill Blomkamp, director of the surprise summer hit "District 9."

Among other winners:

— Music/score: T Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton, "Crazy Heart." Runner-up, Alexandre Desplat, "Fantastic Mr. Fox."

— Production design: Philip Ivey, "District 9." Runner-up, Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg, "Avatar."

— Cinematography: Christian Berger, "The White Ribbon." Runner-up, Barry Ackroyd, "The Hurt Locker."

— Documentary/nonfiction film:"The Beaches of Agnes" and "The Cove" (tie).

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