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N.Y. Writers Pick 'List' but Bypass Spielberg : Movies: Film Critics Circle echoes its L.A. counterpart by naming 'Schindler's List' the best work of 1993 and 'The Piano's' Jane Campion best director.

December 16, 1993|JACK MATHEWS | NEWSDAY

NEW YORK — The New York Film Critics Circle became the third critics group in a week to name Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" best picture of 1993, without naming Spielberg himself best director.

The New York critics followed the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. in selecting "Schindler's List" and in bypassing Spielberg. The New York critics voted best director to "The Piano's" Jane Campion, who was also the Los Angeles critics' choice. The third group, the National Board of Review, on Tuesday picked Martin Scorsese as best director for "The Age of Innocence."

"The Piano" and "Schindler's List" each won three awards from the New York writers. Besides being named best director, Campion won a second award for her highly original screenplay about a Scottish woman finding love outside an arranged marriage in 19th-Century New Zealand, and her star, Holly Hunter, was named best actress for a performance that doesn't include a word of on-screen dialogue. The National Board of Review also selected Hunter.

"Schindler's List," adapted from Thomas Keneally's historical novel about a German industrialist who saved more than 1,100 Jews from Nazi death camps, also won for Janusz Kaminski's extraordinary black-and-white photography, and for Ralph Fiennes, a British actor who plays a sadistic camp commander, who was named best supporting actor.

Chen Kaige's "Farewell My Concubine" was also a multiple winner Wednesday. Gong Li, the Chinese actress who plays an ambitious prostitute who comes between two lifelong friends in the Peking Opera, won as supporting actress, and the film was the runaway winner as best foreign-language film.

In the closest voting of the day, David Thewlis, who plays an alienated, barb-tongued young man adrift in London in Mike Leigh's "Naked," was named best actor over Anthony Hopkins, the star of both "The Remains of the Day" and the upcoming "Shadowlands," the National Board of Review's winner.

The voting was very close in most of the major categories. Just one first-place vote, which is worth three points, separated "Schindler's List" from "The Piano" in the best picture category, and Campion edged Spielberg by the exact same margin for best director.

Beyond "Schindler's List," "The Piano" and "Naked"--which placed a strong third in the best picture voting--none of the other critically praised films during the year mustered much of a movement with the New York critics.

Scorsese's "The Age of Innocence" was pretty much ignored until it came to the cinematography category, where it finished second.

Winona Ryder, the National Board of Review's choice for best supporting actress from "The Age of Innocence," was a distant fourth in New York, behind Gong Li, Rosie Perez ("Fearless") and Jennifer Jason-Leigh ("Short Cuts").

Tommy Lee Jones, whose role in "The Fugitive" won him the L.A. critics' award for best supporting actor, was fifth best in the eyes of the New Yorkers, trailing Fiennes, National Board of Review winner Leonardo DiCaprio ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape," "This Boy's Life"), John Malkovich ("In the Line of Fire") and Bill Murray ("Mad Dog and Glory").

The real story emerging from the first three critics awards, is what can only be read as another snub of Spielberg.

It recalls the controversy in Hollywood seven years ago, when Spielberg's "The Color Purple" received 11 Oscar nominations but none for him as best director. The charge made then by outraged Spielberg supporters was that his colleagues were too jealous of his success to honor him.

The 1993 New York Film Critics Circle Awards:

Best picture: "Schindler's List." Runner-up: "The Piano."

Best director: Jane Campion ("The Piano"). Runner-up: Steven Spielberg ("Schindler's List").

Best actor: David Thewlis ("Naked"). Runner-up: Anthony Hopkins ("The Remains of the Day," "Shadowlands").

Best actress: Holly Hunter ("The Piano"). Runner-up: Ashley Judd ("Ruby in Paradise").

Best supporting actor: Ralph Fiennes ("Schindler's List"). Runner-up: Leonardo DiCaprio ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape," "This Boy's Life").

Best supporting actress: Gong Li ("Farewell My Concubine"). Runner-up: Rosie Perez ("Fearless").

Best screenplay: Jane Campion ("The Piano"). Runner-up: (tie) Steven Zaillian ("Schindler's List"), Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin ("Groundhog Day").

Best cinematography: Janusz Kaminski ("Schindler's List"). Runner-up: Michael Ballhaus ("The Age of Innocence").

Best documentary: "Visions of Light." Runner-up: "The War Room."

Foreign-language Film: "Farewell My Concubine." Runner-up: "The Story of Qui Ju."

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