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Pair tops Boston critics' list

By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / December 15, 2008
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The Boston Society of Film Critics has declared both the visionary space fable "WALL-E" and the Mumbai-set crowd-pleaser "Slumdog Millionaire" the best film of the year. Voting took place yesterday afternoon, and it was the rare time the group declared a tie in that category.

But it wasn't the only tie this year. "Milk" star Sean Penn shared the best-actor award with Mickey Rourke, who plays a washed-up grappler trying to redeem himself in "The Wrestler," which opens next week.

There were two runners-up in the actor category: Frank Langella, who played the disgraced ex-president in "Frost/Nixon," and Richard Jenkins, who portrayed a depressed professor in "The Visitor."

Gus Van Sant won the directing prize for both "Milk" and "Paranoid Park," his avant-garde film about a Portland skate-punk in trouble. "Milk," the story of Harvey Milk and the gay rights movement in 1970s San Francisco, was the runner-up for best film and won the best screenplay prize.

Sally Hawkins continued her sweep of critics' prizes, winning the best-actress award for her work as an unsinkable optimist in Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky." Her nearest competitor was Anne Hathaway, who played a recovering junkie in "Rachel Getting Married."

Heath Ledger was named best supporting actor for his Joker performance in "The Dark Knight." In the supporting-actress category, Penélope Cruz won for her work in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder" and Viola Davis for "Doubt" were the respective runners-up.

The Swedish tween vampire film "Let the Right One In" won for foreign-language film.The animated Israeli documentary "Waltz With Bashir," which opens early next year, came in second there and in the animated category, which "WALL-E" won.

"Man on Wire" took the documentary prize. Playwright Martin McDonagh won best first film for his comic gangster drama "In Bruges." "Paranoid Park" was cited for cinematography and "Slumdog Millionaire" for editing.

Made up of nearly 20 local journalists, the Boston Society also gave special commendations to Bo Smith and Joe Zina, who have left their respective posts running programming at the Museum of Fine Arts and Coolidge Corner Theatre. The group's awards ceremony is scheduled for February 8.

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