L.A. Film Critics Pick ‘Schmidt’ as Year’s Best Film

Times Staff Writer

“About Schmidt,” Alexander Payne’s comedy-drama about a recently widowed retiree, was voted best picture of 2002 on Saturday by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.

“Far From Heaven,” Todd Haynes’ paean to ‘50s movie melodramas, was the runner-up.

For the record:
12:00 AM, Dec. 18, 2002 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday December 18, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 16 inches; 595 words Type of Material: Correction
“Rocky” release -- An article in Sunday’s California section about the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. awards incorrectly suggested that “Rocky” was released after 1980. The movie came out in 1976.

“About Schmidt” won three awards Saturday. Besides best film, the New Line release picked up best-actor honors for Jack Nicholson and screenplay honors for director Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor. Charlie Kaufman was runner-up in the screenplay category for “Adaptation.”

Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis tied for best actor. The latter won for his performance as a brutal New York 19th century gang leader in Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York.”


Nicholson previously won best supporting actor from the critics’ group for 1983’s “Terms of Endearment” and best actor for 1987’s “Ironweed” and “The Witches of Eastwick.” Day-Lewis won best actor 13 years ago for “My Left Foot.”

Julianne Moore won best-actress honors for her roles as troubled ‘50s housewives in “Far From Heaven” and Stephen Daldry’s drama “The Hours.” Moore earlier won the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures best-actress award for “Far From Heaven.” Isabelle Huppert was runner-up with the L.A. critics for “The Piano Teacher.”

Pedro Almodovar won best director for “Talk to Her,” his Spanish-language drama about two men who love comatose women. Haynes was runner-up for “Far From Heaven.”

Edie Falco won the best supporting actress award for her role as a woman trying to keep her Florida motel and restaurant out of the hands of developers in John Sayles’ “Sunshine State.” Kathy Bates was runner-up in the category for “About Schmidt.”


Chris Cooper took home the best supporting actor award for his colorful performance as an eccentric, sexy orchid thief in Spike Jonze’s “Adaptation.” Cooper already won the National Board of Review award in the category. Runner-up was Christopher Walken for “Catch Me If You Can.”

Foreign film honors went to Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexican coming-of-age comedy, “Y tu Mama Tambien.” Almodovar’s “Talk to Her” was runner-up.

Several of the major awards handed out by the Los Angeles critics went to independent features.

Last year, they picked Todd Fields’ indie drama “In the Bedroom” as best film. It was subsequently nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture. With “About Schmidt” and “Far From Heaven” dominating this year, it puts both in the running for Academy Award nominations.

Founded in 1975, the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. has more than 50 members. Since 1980, 18% of its best-picture winners have gone on to win best-picture Oscars, including “Rocky,” “Schindler’s List” and “Unforgiven.”

Last year, it’s best-actor pick, Denzel Washington for “Training Day,” and supporting actor choice, Jim Broadbent for “Iris,” won the Academy Awards in their respective categories.

Other winners:

Cinematographer: Edward Lachman, “Far From Heaven”; runner-up, Conrad L. Hall, “Road to Perdition.”


Production design: Dante Ferretti, “Gangs of New York”; runner-up: Mark Friedberg, “Far From Heaven.”

Animation: “Spirited Away”; special citation for “Lilo & Stitch.”

Documentary/nonfiction: “The Cockettes”; runner-up: “Bowling for Columbine.”

Music/score: Elmer Bernstein, “Far From Heaven”; runner-up, Philip Glass, “The Hours.”

New Generation Award: Lynne Ramsay.

Independent/experimental: “Corpus Collosum,” Michael Snow; and Kenneth Anger for his body of work.