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New York Film Critics Circle names Coen brothers' film best picture

The Coen brothers' "No Country for Old Men" was awarded new title - best picture - Monday by the New York Film Critics Circle.

Joel and Ethan Coen also each won for their direction and screenplay adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name. Javier Bardem, who plays a menacing serial killer in the film won best supporting actor.

This awards season has been viewed as wide open, but "No Country for Old Men" already has been honored for best picture by U.S. groups such as the National Board of Review, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Washington, D.C., Area Film Critics Association.

Stephen Witty, film critic for The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey, and New York Film Critics Circle president, said he considers "No Country for Old Men" the Coen brothers' best film since 1996's "Fargo."

"It's been a couple years of fairly light movies from them and I thought this was really dark and mature and controlled and really had something to say about changing times," said Witty. "A lot of us are Coen brothers' fans but I think this film really struck a deeper chord with most people."

The critics circle, a group of 29 writers for New York-based newspapers and magazines, awarded Daniel-Day Lewis best actor for his performance as an obsessive California oil baron in "There Will Be Blood." Robert Elswit was honored as best cinematographer for shooting the film.

"There Will Be Blood" is also well positioned for the Academy Awards race, having been chosen on Sunday as the year's best film by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It also shared best picture from the New York Film Critics Online with "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."

The New York Film Critics Circle named Julie Christie best actress ("Away from Her") and Amy Ryan best supporting actress ("Gone Baby Gone"). Actress-turned-director Sarah Polley won best first film for helming "Away from Her."

The German film "The Lives of Others," which won best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards earlier this year, won for best foreign film. Best animated film was "Persepolis," France's Oscar candidate this year for best foreign-language film.

The nominations for the Golden Globes will be announced Thursday. The Globes, which will be handed out Jan. 13, will be followed by Oscar nominations on Jan. 22, with the awards ceremony scheduled for Feb. 24.

The New York Film Critics Circle, which is also honoring director Sidney Lumet for lifetime achievement, last year made "United 93" their best film. In 2005, they chose "Brokeback Mountain."

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