NEW YORK — The calendar said 1997, but it might have been '77. Or even '67: Peter Fonda, Julie Christie and Burt Reynolds, performers probably best known for their work of two or three decades ago, were chosen best actor, best actress and best supporting actor Thursday by the New York Film Critics Circle, which also honored the noirish "L.A. Confidential" with awards for best picture, best director and best screenplay.
The Critics Circle, whose 63rd annual awards dinner will be held Jan. 4, met at the Algonquin Hotel, and also selected Joan Cusack ("In & Out") as best supporting actress, "Ponette" as best foreign film, Errol Morris' "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control" as best nonfiction film and Neil Labute's "In the Company of Men" as best first film. "Kundun," Martin Scorsese's upcoming film about the Dalai Lama, was honored for the cinematography of Roger Deakins.
Fonda, whose performance in Victor Nunez's "Ulee's Gold" has been praised as the comeback of the year, and Christie, who plays a woman on the edge in Alan Rudolph's yet-to-be-released "Afterglow," edged out some tough competition. They included Ian Holm ("The Sweet Hereafter"), Robert Duvall (the upcoming "The Apostle"), Helena Bonham Carter ("The Wings of the Dove") and Judi Dench ("Mrs. Brown").
Reynolds, whom many gave up for gone after the debacle of "Striptease," was cited for his strong showing as a porn director in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights."
"L.A. Confidential"--which earlier this week was selected as best picture by the National Board of Review--was the clear favorite as best picture, although Curtis Hanson barely edged out "The Sweet Hereafter's" Atom Egoyan in the voting for best director.
A special tribute, which the critics decide to make on a year-to-year basis, will go this year to Dan Talbot, of the always adventurous New Yorker Films, for his contributions to cinema.
The New York Film Critics Circle, founded in 1935, comprises critics from major publications in the metropolitan area. This year's new members are Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, Leah Rosen of People, Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal, and Janet Maslin and Stephen Holden of the New York Times, which until recently forbade its critics from belonging to such organizations.