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· The mavericks of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle give their top honors—picture and directing—to Todd Fields' Little Children. Helen Mirren wins best actress for The Queen, a status quo concession they make up for by awarding Sacha Baron Cohen best actor for his Pamela Anderson-stalking work in Borat. Screenplay honors go to the hardboiled, Raymond-Chandler-meets-Degrassi indie, Brick. []
· Time's Richard Corliss gives us yet more insight into the shadowy goings on behind the closed doors of the New York Film Circle's annual gang bang ("The job is simple: tear yellow-lined paper into cracker-size bits; write a name or three on one piece; wait while the names are read out and tabulated," he writes, grippingly), and does some actual math to figure out if these lists actually predict Oscar results. Answer: Yes, they do! Occasionally. []
· Clint vs. Clint. Leo vs. Leo. Peter vs. Peter. (Morgan: he wrote The Queen and Last King of Scotland.) In a bounty year of award-worthy output, will ceremonies like the Golden Globes (nominations out this Thursday) see multiple nods for single artists who did double-duty, or will vote-splitting end up cancelling them out? [LAT]
· Letters From Iwo Jima and United 93's strong showing in critics' polls puts the underhyped downer movies high on Academy members' radars; Ellen DeGeneres and her writers are already salivating at the hilarious opening montage sequence in which she single-handedly foils the plans of a group of 9-11 terrorists, only to jet-pack to the ground and find herself trapped in a Japanese internment camp. [Reuters]