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New Honors for ‘Breaking the Waves’

“Breaking the Waves,” which took the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, all but swept the National Society of Film Critics awards in New York City on Sunday, winning best picture, best director for Lars von Trier, best actress for Emily Watson and best cinematographer for Robby Muller.

Von Trier, Watson and Muller (also cited for his work on Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man”) had been similarly honored by the New York Film Critics Circle last month. But “Breaking the Waves” itself has been largely overlooked so far by the other major awards presenters in this country.

Still, the big surprise from the national society was its selection of Eddie Murphy as best actor for “The Nutty Professor.” Though Murphy had been a runner-up in the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. balloting last month, both the L.A. and New York critics’ awards went to Geoffrey Rush of “Shine.”

Tony Shaloub of “Big Night” and Martin Donovan of “Portrait of a Lady” tied for the national society’s best supporting actor award. The society’s best supporting actress is Barbara Hershey from “The Portrait of a Lady,” who also was chosen by the L.A. critics.

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The society chose “La Ceremonie” by Claude Chabrol as the best foreign language film; Albert Brooks and Monica Johnson’s “Mother” as best screenplay; and Leon Gast’s “When We Were Kings” as best documentary. A special citation went to James Katz and Bob Harris for their restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.”

For best picture, the Los Angeles critics chose Mike Leigh’s “Secrets & Lies,” the New York critics picked the Coen Brothers’ “Fargo” and the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures picked “Shine,” directed by Scott Hicks. All four films have been nominated for Golden Globes.

For best director and actress, the L.A. critics had opted for “Secrets & Lies’ ” Mike Leigh and Belinda Blethyn.

--Times Staff Writer

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