Online Film Critics Society, National Society of Critics Awards: Children and Monarchs Win Big

The consensus continues to get stronger: if you want to behold the awesome creative power of actors at the top of their games, then you need to check out Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth and Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin. Two more critics' groups, the Online Film Critics Society (of which I'm a member) and the National Society of Film Critics have announced the winners of their awards for 2006, and they're in agreement on the best lead performances of the year ... and a few other things, as well.

United 93, The Departed, Pan's Labyrinth, and Children of Men all fare well with both groups: The OFCS named the 9/11 drama the best picture of the year, while the NSFC laud Paul Greengrass as best director for that film; Pan's Labyrinth is the NSFC's best film of the year, and the OFCS's best foreign film. Scorsese is the OFCS's best director, for The Departed; NSFC likes Mark Wahlberg in that film as best supporting actor. Both groups gave Children of Men their cinematography awards, and both called An Inconvenient Truth the year's best documentary.

I've got a few beefs with these lists: As much as I am astonished by Sacha Baron Cohen's performance in Borat, I don't think he's sufficiently unknown to warrant the OFCS's Breakthrough Performer award. The Borat film might be a marathon, but Baron Cohen's been sprinting for years with Da Ali G Show. (My top nominee for that award on my initial OFCS awards ballot? Ellen Page in Hard Candy [my review]. I'm also with the NSFC in thinking that Mark Wahlberg is the best supporting actor of 2006; the exchange-of-insults scene with Alec Baldwin alone would have been enough to do it. And A Scanner Darkly was No. 4 on my list of best animated films of the year on the OFCS ballot; Happy Feet [my review] topped my list.

No one on either of these lists is undeserving, but I'm way off in a corner of my own when it comes to my best film and best director of the year: it's The Science of Sleep [my review] and Michel Gondry for me -- he made one of the most weirdly beautiful movies I've ever seen, and nothing this year has come quite so close to rendering me mute, afraid even my most effusive praise could not do it justice.

The Online Film Critics Society Awards:

BEST PICTURE: United 93 [my review]
BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese, The Departed [my review]
BEST ACTOR: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
BEST ACTRESS: Helen Mirren, The Queen
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine [my review]
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Children of Men [my review]
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Children of Men [my review]
BEST EDITING: United 93 [my review]
BEST DOCUMENTARY: An Inconvenient Truth [my review]
BEST ANIMATED FILM: A Scanner Darkly [my review]
BREAKTHROUGH FILMMAKER: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine [my review]
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMER: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat [my review]

The National Society of Film Critics Awards:

BEST PICTURE: Pan's Labyrinth
BEST DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass, United 93 [my review]
BEST NONFICTION FILM: An Inconvenient Truth [my review]
BEST ACTOR: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mark Wahlberg, The Departed [my review]
BEST ACTRESS: Helen Mirren, The Queen
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada [my review] and A Prairie Home Companion [my review]
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Children of Men [my review]
MaryAnn Johanson
author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride
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