N.Y. film critics laud 'United 93'

Times Staff Writer

"United 93" is turning into a force to be reckoned with in the 2006 movie-award season. The documentary-style account of the ill-fated flight that was hijacked by terrorists on 9/11 was named best film of the year Monday by the New York Film Critics Circle.

The New York win comes on the heels of the film's director, Paul Greengrass, being selected Sunday as best director of 2006 by Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. "It is certainly one of the most unique films of the year," said Circle chair Marshall Fine. "It's a film that hits you in a way that no other film did."

The New York critics named Martin Scorsese as best director for his popular gangster epic, "The Departed."

Helen Mirren won best actress honors for her performance as Elizabeth II in "The Queen" and Forest Whitaker was chosen best actor as Uganda dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."

Both Mirren and Whitaker previously won the top honors from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the L.A. Film Critics Assn.

The 31 members also voted Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls") as best supporting actress and Jackie Earle Haley ("Little Children") as best supporting actor.

Clint Eastwood's World War II drama "Letters From Iwo Jima," which won best film honors from the NBR and LAFCA, was shut out in all categories.

Peter Morgan won screenplay honors for "The Queen," and "Happy Feet" took the award for best animated film. The documentary "Deliver Us From Evil," about a L.A.-based priest who was a serial sex offender, was named best nonfiction film and "Army of Shadows" was chosen best foreign-language film. The drama "Half Nelson" was selected best first feature.



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