Critics name ‘Blood’ best picture

Times Staff Writer

“There Will be Blood,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic tale of oil, power and greed, was named best picture of 2007 on Saturday by the National Society of Film Critics.

The complex and ambitious adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s “Oil!” also won best director for Anderson, best actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and best cinematography for Robert Elswit.

Both the drama and Day-Lewis have been gaining momentum this awards season. Last month, the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. chose “There Will Be Blood” as the year’s best; Day-Lewis has received numerous honors, including from the Los Angeles Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle and Chicago Film Critics Assn. The movie also earned Golden Globe nominations for best dramatic picture and best actor in a drama.


By contrast, one of the Golden Globes’ most nominated films, “Atonement,” went away empty-handed Saturday.

Julian Schnabel’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” placed second in the best picture category, with Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No Country for Old Men” coming in third.

The stark Romanian drama “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” took foreign film honors.

Forty-one of the 61 members of the society, which consists of critics from major publications across the country, voted Saturday afternoon at the 42nd annual meeting at Sardi’s restaurant in New York City.

The society’s choices over the last four decades have been far more esoteric than those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The groups have agreed only four times on the best picture in the last 30 years: “Annie Hall” (1977), “Unforgiven” (1992), “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2004).

The society selected Julie Christie as best actress for her performance as a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in “Away From Her.” Christie has received many accolades this year, including best actress from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the New York Film Critics Circle. She is also nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Casey Affleck took best supporting actor for his role as Jesse James’ killer in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Affleck is also in contention for a Golden Globe and a SAG Award.

Cate Blanchett picked up best supporting actress honors for her gender-bending role as a Bob Dylan-esque singer in Todd Haynes’ offbeat “I’m Not There.” She’s vying for a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for that role as well as for best actress in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.”

Tamara Jenkins received best screenplay honors for “The Savages.” The nonfiction film award went to “No End in Sight,” an Iraq war documentary.

John Gianvito’s “Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind” was named best experimental film.

Film heritage awards were announced for the “Ford at Fox” DVD set and for the restoration of Charles Burnett’s “The Killer of Sheep” by Ross Lipman of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.