They've Seen More Movies than You Have

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The San Francisco Film Critics Circle decided its annual awards last night, and the results confirm that the Bay Area indeed has its own distinct taste in screen entertainment - more irreverent than New York, quirkier than LA, more inquisitive than Boston. The SF critics' 2006 Best Picture prize went to ...

... Little Children, actor-turned-director Todd Field's moody adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel of emotional discontent in suburbia. Former juvenile actor Jackie Earle Haley (The Bad News Bears, Breaking Away) took home Supporting Actor honors for his role as a registered sex offender in the same film. Little Children's third award went to Field and Perrotta for their Adapted Screenplay.

SF evidently craves broad strokes in its film acting. Best Actor went to Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat - just because you're sick of hearing about him doesn't mean his movie isn't one of the most incisive and provocative projects of the year. For Best Actress, Helen Mirren won for her portrayal of England's Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen - this year's safest choice. Meanwhile, Adriana Barraza captured Best Supporting Actress for her work in Babel, as the Mexican babysitter who gets lost in the desert, figuratively and otherwise.

Brick, a deep-dish drama of high-school crime, yielded the Best Original Screenplay award for writer-director Rian Johnson. In a year in which serious Mexican films reached out to more US art audiences, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro's grim fantasy, Pan's Labyrinth won for Best Foreign Language Film. It was del Toro's second allegorical stab at the Spanish Civil War seen through the eyes of a troubled child, after 2001's The Devil's Backbone.

United 93, the controversial 9/11 docudrama many moviegoers refused to watch, nevertheless garnered Best Director kudos for Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, Bloody Sunday). Best Documentary honors went to Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth, the global-warming wakeup call by former US veep and San Francisco man-about-world Al Gore.

In honor of the late SF Film Critics Circle member Arthur Lazere the group's Special Citation was given to The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, a tragicomic slice of life from Romania. Stephen Salmons, cofounder and artistic director of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, was awarded the SF critics' Marlon Riggs Award for his eleven-year-old celebration of the glories of silent cinema. Now to catch up with all those movies.

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