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With the year 2000 drawing to a close, film critic

With the year 2000 drawing to a close, film critics around the world have been busily naming their picks for the best movies of the year. In recent weeks, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the Boston Society of Film Critics have made their selections.

In New York, the critics met at Sardi's to cast their votes Wed., Dec. 13 and rushed headlong into "Traffic." That is, Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic," an unreleased drama about drugs in America, which they named best picture. In addition, the critics named Benicio Del Toro best supporting actor for his work in the film, and Soderbergh best director, based on "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich."

The New York critics also smiled on Kenneth Lonergan, who was honored for best screenplay for his newest film, "You Can Count on Me," which he also helmed, and Laura Linney was named best actress for her performance in that Paramount Classics picture.

Tom Hanks won best actor for his performance in "Cast Away," Marcia Gay Harden got best supporting actress for "Pollack," Peter Pau's work on "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was voted the best cinematography, Edward Yang's "Yi Yi" ("A One and a Two") was named best foreign film, "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" got best documentary, and "Chicken Run" won best animated film.

'Famous' in Boston

The critics up in Boston saw things differently: They were enraptured by "Almost Famous," Cameron Crowe's film about his youth as a reporter for Rolling Stone. The film got the nod as best picture, Crowe won as best director, his screenplay tied with Steven Kloves' script for "Wonder Boys," and Frances McDormand won as best supporting actress, based on her performances in "Almost Famous" and "Wonder Boys."

Ellen Burstyn won best actress honors for "Requiem for a Dream," best actor went to newcomer Colin Farrell for "Tigerland," and Fred Willard won best supporting actor for "Best in Show." "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's documentary about the former televangelist's spouse, won as best documentary, and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was named best foreign language film.

The only time when the Boston critics' opinions converged with their New York counterparts was when they named Pau best cinematographer for "Crouching Tiger."

'Crouching' in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles critics were more impressed by "Crouching Tiger" than their East Coast colleagues were. They named it the best picture of the year, making it the first time in 25 years a foreign language film won the group's highest honor. In addition, it garnered the awards for best music, production design, and cinematography.

As in Boston, McDormand was named best supporting actress. As in New York, Soderbergh was voted best director of the year, Lonergan got the nod for best screenplay, and "Chicken Run" flew away with the award for best animated film.

Julie Roberts was the critics' choice for best actress for her portrayal of the title character in "Erin Brockovich," Michael Douglas was named best actor for his work in "Wonder Boys," and Willem Dafoe won best supporting actor for "Shadow of the Vampire." The best documentary award went to Marc Singer's "Dark Days," about homeless people who live underground in New York City railroad tunnels.

The biggest surprise in Los Angeles was that "Crouching Tiger" did not win as best foreign film. Voting for that category commenced after it had already been named best overall film of the year, prompting the reviewers to name "Yi Yi" best foreign language film.

'Broadcast' News

The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced some of the winners of its Critics Choice Awards, which will be distributed in January. Soderburgh was named best director, Roberts was best actress, Frances McDormand was best supporting actress, Russell Crowe was best actor for his "Gladiator" performance, and Joaquin Phoenix was best supporting actor for "Quills," "Gladiator," and "The Yards." In the opinion of the association (the largest such group in North America), "Crouching Tiger" was best foreign language film, "Chicken Run" was best animated feature, "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" was best documentary, Cameron Crowe's script for "Almost Famous" was the best original screenplay, and the best adapted screenplay was a tie between Stephen Gaghan for "Traffic" and Steven Kloves for "Wonder Boys."

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