National critics society draws 'Blood'
Daniel Day-Lewis pic wins best actor, film also grabs director and lensing wins.
His fearsome turn as Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" earned Daniel Day-Lewis the top acting prize from the National Society of Film Critics. (Paramount Vantage)
The complex and ambitious adaptation of Upton Sinclairs Oil! also won best director for Anderson, best actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and best cinematography for Robert Elswit.
Last month, the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. chose There Will Be Blood as the years best; Day-Lewis has received numerous critics honors including LAFCA, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Chicago Film Critics Assn.
There Will Be Blood, though, only managed to earn Golden Globe nominations for best picture (drama) and best actor (drama). By contrast, the Golden Globes top nominee, Atonement, went away empty-handed Saturday afternoon.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly placed second in the best picture category with Joel and Ethan Coens No Country for Old Men, coming in third.
Forty-one out of the 61 members of the society, which is comprised of critics from major publications across the country, voted Saturday afternoon at the 42nd annual meeting at Sardis restaurant in New York City.
The film critics choices over the past four decades have been far more esoteric than the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selections. In fact, both groups have only agreed four times on best picture in the past 30 years: 1977s Annie Hall, 1992s Unforgiven, 1993s Schindlers List and 2004s Million Dollar Baby.
The group selected Julie Christie as best actress for her performance as a woman suffering from Alzheimers in Away From Her. Christie has been a critics darling this year, earning many accolades including best actress from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the New York Film Critics Circle. Just as Day-Lewis, she is also nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Casey Affleck took best supporting actor for his role as Jesse James killer in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Affleck is also in contention for a Golden Globe and SAG Award.
Cate Blanchett picked up best supporting actress honors for her gender-bending role as a Bob Dylan-esque singer in Todd Haynes off-beat Im Not There. Shes also vying for a Golden Globe and SAG award.
Tamara Jenkins received best screenplay honors for The Savages. The non-fiction film award went to the Iraq war documentary, No End in Sight, and John Gianvitos Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind was named best experimental film.
Two film heritage awards were also announced Saturday for the Ford At Fox DVD set and for UCLA Film and Television Archives Ross Lipman for his restoration of Charles Burnetts The Killer of Sheep.