'Departed' wows b'cast critics


Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Departed" won the best picture award and the film's Martin Scorsese took the best director honor at the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.'s 12th annual Critics Choice Awards.

Forest Whitaker won best actor for his performance in Fox Searchlight's "The Last King of Scotland," and Helen Mirren was crowned best actress for her work in Miramax Films' "The Queen."

Other big winners Friday night at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium were Fox Searchlight's "Little Miss Sunshine" and Paramount and DreamWorks' "Dreamgirls," which picked up four awards apiece.

The best picture prize was accepted by Scorsese and producer Graham King. Scorsese received a rousing standing ovation when presenter Steven Spielberg read his name as best director with a satisfied sigh.

"I started out trying to make a traditional cop-gangster movie, in the tradition of Warner Bros. movies like 'White Heat,' " Scorsese said. "Then something else came out of it."

"Thank you, critics," Mirren said as she accepted her award. "And I never thought those words would ever come out my mouth."

"Sunshine" swept the best young actor and actress awards, with the prizes going to Abigail Breslin and Paul Dano. Breslin, 10, won over the audience when she blurted, "Oh my gosh, this is so cool!" After thanking the "Critics Broadcast Association," she thanked her parents, "who have supported me for forever."

Dano recalled shooting the movie in the back seat of a hot, sweaty van and sitting next to Alan Arkin. He confided in Arkin that he didn't know if acting was a feasible career, to which the veteran actor responded, "I still don't know if it's feasible."

"It was comforting to hear," Dano recalled.

"Sunshine" screenwriter Michael Arndt won for best writer and thanked the film's directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, calling them "the true authors of this movie, who stuck with this movie for five years, who turned mere words into a work of art."

"Sunshine" also won for best ensemble.

"Dreamgirls" swept the supporting actors awards, with Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy nabbing the prizes for supporting actress and actor.

"Wow, I'm not used to this," Hudson said. "I'm a little nervous. Let's just say thank God for (her character) Effie, for bringing Effie into my life. When you recognize me, you recognize a brilliant man by the name of ("Dreamgirls" director) Bill Condon.

"Dreamgirls" also did well in the music categories, picking up awards for best soundtrack and best song for "Listen," sung by Beyonce. The third music category was best composer, which was won by Philip Glass for "The Illusionist."

Warners' "Letters From Iwo Jima" was named best foreign language film. Clint Eastwood, the film's director and producer, received a standing ovation as he walked to the stage, where he was joined by fellow "Letters" producers Spielberg and Robert Lorenz.

Disney-Pixar's "Cars" sped away with the award for best animated feature, which was accepted up by producer Darla K. Anderson, as director John Lasseter was off celebrating his 50th birthday.

20th Century Fox's "Borat" won for best comedy, and "An Inconvenient Truth" was named best documentary feature. HBO's "Elizabeth I" won for best picture made for television.

Best family film went to Paramount's "Charlotte's Web." Jordan Kerner, the film's producer, caused murmurs when, during the course of his thank yous to the studio, he singled out major Paramount players who have exited the past couple of years. Avnet thanked Sherry Lansing, John Goldwyn, Donald De Line and recently departed Gail Berman and Alli Shearmur.