UPDATE 1-New York critics pick 'Zero Dark Thirty' as best film

Christine Kearney
Reuters Middle East

* Kathryn Bigelow named best director for "Zero Dark Thirty"

* Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field win acting nods for


* Rachel Weisz wins best actress for post-war British film

(Adds awards, details)

NEW YORK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The New York Film Critics Circle

on Monday picked action thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" as best film

and gave its top acting honors to Daniel Day-Lewis and Rachel

Weisz in the first major movie awards of the season leading up

to Hollywood's Oscars.

U.S. filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow won best director for "Zero

Dark Thirty," based on the decade-long U.S. operation to kill

Osama bin Laden and billed as a cinematic look at "the greatest

manhunt in history."

Bigelow's film, which stars Jessica Chastain as a young

female CIA officer doggedly pursuing bin Laden for years through

a long-forgotten courier, has yet to be released but has already

gained buzz in early screenings for critics.

After Monday's nod from the New York film critics, "Zero

Dark Thirty" is positioned as one of the front runners in the

race for this year's Academy Awards, the film world's highest

honors, which are handed out in February.

Day-Lewis won for his performance as President Abraham

Lincoln in "Lincoln," while Britain's Weisz was a surprise

choice for the New York critics' best actress award for her

portrayal of Hester Collyer in romantic drama "The Deep Blue

Sea," set in post-World War Two Britain.

Sally Field was named best supporting actress for her

performance opposite Day-Lewis as Mary Todd Lincoln in

"Lincoln," the tale of Lincoln's battle to outlaw slavery. It

was written by playwright Tony Kushner, who also picked up the

best screenplay award.

Actor Matthew McConaughey won best supporting actor for his

performances in "Bernie" and raunchy comedy "Magic Mike."


Notably absent from the list of winners was "Les

Misérables," the first big movie adaptation of the popular stage

musical. It stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway

and was directed by "The King's Speech" Oscar-winning director

Tom Hooper. The movie has been gaining critical buzz in preview


Also missing from the list of winners was Ben Affleck's

well-received Iran hostage thriller "Argo."

The New York based film critics organization was founded in

1935 and comprises members from newspapers, magazines and some

online publications.

Awards from the critics and movie industry groups often

influence which films, performers and film makers will compete

for the Oscars, which are given out by the Beverly Hills-based

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"Zero Dark Thirty," saw its release date pushed back to Dec.

19 after the film got caught up earlier this year in a U.S.

election controversy.

The makers of the film - "The Hurt Locker" Oscar winners

Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal - recently denied a claim

they were given classified material for their research but said

they did conduct interviews with a CIA officer and others at the

heart of the hunt for the al Qaeda leader.

The New York critics group's pick for best documentary went

to "The Central Park Five," Ken Burns' examination of the 1989

case of five black and Latino teenagers whose convictions of

raping a white female jogger were overturned after they spent

years in prison.

Best foreign language film went to Austrian director Michael

Haneke's "Amour," a tale of an elderly couple facing the tragic

march of death, while best animated feature went to


The critics awarded best cinematography to Greig Fraser for

"Zero Dark Thirty" and best first film went to nonfiction film

"How To Survive A Plague," David France's documentary about the

first nine years of AIDS advocacy group ACT UP.

The organization announced the awards via Twitter.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Jill Serjeant and

Steve Orlofsky)

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