‘Sweet’ Takes Honors From Film Critics

“Life Is Sweet,” an unconventional look at a modern working-class family by British filmmaker Mike Leigh, picked up the most awards--including best picture of 1991--from the National Society of Film Critics on Sunday.

The surprise choice for best picture by the critics, who write for major, general interest publications, means that the nation’s three major critics’ organizations have each gone their own ways. The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. voted Barry Levinson’s “Bugsy” as best picture and the New York Film Critics Circle cited Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs.”

The three different choices for 1991 follows the rare alignment of critics a year ago, when all three groups agreed on Martin Scorcese’s “GoodFellas” as best film of 1990.

The national group, voting at Manhattan’s Algonquin Hotel, also honored “Life Is Sweet’s” Alison Steadman as best actress and Jane Horrocks as supporting actress. River Phoenix was named best actor for his role as a gay street hustler in “My Own Private Idaho.”


The winners and runners-up:

* Picture: “Life Is Sweet.” Runners-up: “Naked Lunch,” “Bugsy.”

* Actor: River Phoenix, “My Own Private Idaho.” Runners-up: Warren Beatty, “Bugsy”; Nick Nolte, “The Prince of Tides.”

* Actress: Alison Steadman, “Life Is Sweet.” Runners-up: Jodie Foster, “Silence of the Lambs,” Susan Sarandon, “Thelma and Louise.”


* Supporting actor: Harvey Keitel, for “Bugsy,” “Thelma and Louise,” and “Mortal Thoughts.” Runners-up: Steven Hill, “Billy Bathgate”; Elliot Gould, “Bugsy.”

* Supporting actress: Jane Horrocks, “Life Is Sweet.” Runners-up: Juliette Lewis, “Cape Fear”; Judy Davis, “Naked Lunch.”

* Director: David Cronenberg, “Naked Lunch.” Runners-up: Mike Leigh, “Life Is Sweet”; Jonathan Demme, “Silence of the Lambs.”

* Cinematography: Roger Deakins, “Barton Fink.” Runners-up: Peter Suschitzky, “Naked Lunch”; Allen Daviau, “Bugsy.”

* Screenplay: David Cronenberg, “Naked Lunch.” Runners-up: James Toback, “Bugsy”; Agnieszka Holland, “Europa, Europa”; Calder Willingham, “Rambling Rose.”

* Foreign film: “Double Life of Veronique.” Runners-up: “The Vanishing”; “Europa, Europa.”

* Documentary: “Paris Is Burning.” Runners-up: “Hearts of Darkness,” “American Dream,” “Madonna: Truth or Dare.”