Critics Name Polanski's 'The Pianist' Best Picture

Times Staff Writer

"The Pianist," Roman Polanski's moving Holocaust drama, was named best picture Saturday by the National Society of Film Critics, which also named Polanski the best director for the film and Adrien Brody, the star, best actor.

Set in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II, "The Pianist" is about a brilliant Jewish pianist who survives the war. Ronald Harwood also won for his screenplay adaptation of the book by the real-life "Pianist," Wladyslaw Szpilman.

With "The Pianist" winning best film at the 37th annual critics' meeting at Sardi's Restaurant in Manhattan, one thing is certain as the awards season unfolds: No one film is dominating the race that culminates with the Academy Awards in March.

The National Board of Review named the literary drama "The Hours" as best film; the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. gave the dark comedy "About Schmidt" its top prize; and the New York Film Critics Circle honored the lush melodrama "Far From Heaven" as the best of 2002.

"The Pianist" did win best picture, actor and director from the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards last month and received Golden Globe nominations for best film drama and best actor.

Last year, the National Society of Film Critics, which comprises 55 of the country's top critics, named "Mulholland Drive" best film; two years ago it named the Taiwanese film "Yi yi" ("A One and a Two") the best.

Best actress honors Saturday went to Diane Lane for her performance as an adulteress in Adrian Lyne's drama "Unfaithful."

Lane also has won the New York Film Critics Circle prize and is nominated for a Golden Globe.

Veteran Christopher Walken was named best supporting actor as Leonardo DiCaprio's father in "Catch Me If You Can," and Patricia Clarkson won the award for supporting actress as the gossipy best friend of a '50s suburban housewife in "Far From Heaven."

Edward Lachman also won best cinematography honors for "Far From Heaven."

Alfonso Cuaron's coming-of-age comedy from Mexico, "Y Tu Mama Tambien," won best foreign film, and "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" received the award for best nonfiction film.

The Film Heritage Award was given to Kino International, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive was awarded a special citation for its work in film preservation and restoration.

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