National critics society toasts 'Blood'

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"There Will Be Blood" was named best picture and its helmsman Paul Thomas Anderson was named best director by the National Society of Film Critics, which met at Sardi's Restaurant in New York on Saturday to choose its annual film awards.

The collection of critics from around the country also hailed Daniel Day-Lewis, who stars in the film as a ruthless oil baron, as best actor of 2007 and awarded cinematography honors to the film's Robert Elswit.

In opting for "Blood" -- which prevailed over the group's second and third choices, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "No Country for Old Men," respectively -- the National Society seconded the choice of the Los Angeles Film Critics' Assn., which went for "Blood" last month.

Julie Christie was named best actress for her portrait of a woman drifting into Alzheimer's in "Away From Her." And supporting actor nods went to Cate Blanchett for "I'm Not There" and Casey Affleck for "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

Tamara Jenkins captured best screenplay honors for "The Savages."

"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," Cristian Mungiu's abortion drama from Romania, was chosen as best foreign-language film. Ranking second and third in the voting were Julian Schnabel's "Diving Bell" and "Persepolis."

Charles Ferguson's Iraq War study "No End in Sight" was selected best nonfiction film over the second and third choices, Michael Moore's "Sicko" and Barbet Schroeder's "Terror's Advocate."

Forty-one of the group's 61 critics voted, using a weighted balloting system.

In the voting for best director, the "No Country" filmmaking team of Joel and Ethan Coen tied for second place with Schnabel.

Runners-up to Day-Lewis in the best actor heat were Frank Langella for "Starting Out in the Evening" and Philip Seymour Hoffman for both "The Savages" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." Best actress runners-up were Marion Cotillard for "La Vie en Rose" and Anamaria Marinca for "4 Months."

In the supporting categories, the runners-up for best supporting actress were Amy Ryan for both "Gone Baby Gone" and "Devil" and Tilda Swinton for "Michael Clayton," and for best support actor, Javier Bardem for "No Country" and Hoffman for "Charlie Wilson's War."

The other best screenplay contenders were Anderson's "Blood," which ranked second, and Ronald Harwood's "Diving Bell," which placed third.

For best cinematography, runners-up were Janusz Kaminski for "Diving Bell" and Roger Deakins for "No Country."

The group named John Gianvito's "Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind" best experimental film.

It recognized Fox Home Video's 21-disc collection of films by John Ford, "Ford at Fox," with a Film Heritage Award.

A second Film Heritage Award went to Ross Lipman of the UCLA Film and Television Archive for the restoration of Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep" and other independent films.

David Sterritt was re-elected as the National Society's chairman for 2008 at the meeting, which was dedicated to the memory of film critic Hollis Alpert, who co-founded the society in 1966.
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