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Toronto Film Critics Pick The Best of 2009 (and it's a tie!)

On the heels of the Golden Globe nominations comes the Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA) awards for the best in film of 2009. Tied for Best Picture are Quentin Tarantino’s WWII Nazi revenge film Inglourious Basterds, and Hunger, Steve McQueen’s dreary film about the 1981 hunger strike at Ireland’s Maze prison. Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq war film The Hurt Locker was named runner-up while Bigelow herself won the Best Director award (Tarantino and McQueen were runners-up and McQueen received the award for Best First Feature). In another tie, Inglourious Basterds was deadlocked with Jason Reitman’s adapted script for Up in the Air in the Best Screenplay category.

In the acting categories Nicolas Cage wowed the group with his portrayal of a drug-addicted police Lieutenant in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and was garnered Best Actor for his work, and Carey Mulligan’s highly acclaimed role in An Education earned her the Best Actress title. Up in the Air‘s Anna Kendrick got the votes for Best Supporting Actress and Basterds‘ Christoph Waltz took the award for Best Supporting Actor.

I called Fantastic Mr. Fox the best animated film of the year in my review and it seems that the TFCA agrees, naming it the Best Animated Feature. The dolphin documentary The Cove deservedly won the Allan King Documentary Award, and Best Foreign-Language Film went to the Austrian-German film The White Ribbon (opening in Toronto January 15).

The Necessities of Life, Polytechnique, and Bruce McDonald’s Pontypool are competing for the Rogers Best Canadian Feature Award which carries a $10,000 cash prize and will be given out by iconic director David Cronenberg at the awards ceremony on January 12. Mark Peranson, editor and publisher of Cinema Scope magazine, will receive the Clyde Gilmour Award for advancing the appreciation of film, and the newly-formed Jay Scott Award (named after the influential Globe and Mail critic and worth $5,000 to the winner) will be announced at the dinner as well.

The TFCA was formed in 1997 and is comprised of Toronto-based critics and film journalists from all major daily and weekly newspapers, as well as a variety of other print and electronic outlets. Members have sat on critic juries at the Cannes, Venice and Toronto film festivals, and also participate in the International Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI). For a film to be eligible for the 2009 TFCA awards, it had to be released in Canada within the year or has to qualify for the 2009 Oscars and have a release date in Canada no later than the end of February 2010. The awards were selected by an online vote conducted by TFCA members.

Full list of winners and runners-up below.

BEST PICTURE: Hunger, Inglourious Basterds (tie)

Runner-up:

The Hurt Locker

BEST PERFORMANCE, MALE: Nicolas Cage, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Runners-up:

George Clooney, Up in the Air

Michael Fassbender, Hunger

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Viggo Mortensen, The Road

BEST PERFORMANCE, FEMALE: Carey Mulligan, An Education

Runners-up:

Arta Dobroshi, Le Silence de Lorna

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE, MALE: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Runners-up:

Christian McKay, Me & Orson Welles

Timothy Olyphant, A Perfect Getaway

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE, FEMALE: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Runners-up:

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Mo’nique, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Runners-up:

Steve McQueen, Hunger

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

BEST SCREENPLAY: Inglourious Basterds, written by Quentin Tarantino and Up in the Air, written by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner based on the novel by Walter Kirn (tie)

Runner-up:

A Serious Man, written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

BEST FIRST FEATURE: Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen

Runners-up:

District 9, directed by Neill Blomkamp

(500) Days of Summer, directed by Marc Webb

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Runners-up:

Coraline

Up

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: The White Ribbon

Runners-up:

Police, Adjective

Summer Hours

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Cove

Runners-up:

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

The Beaches of Agnes

For more information on the Toronto Film Critics Association visit torontofilmcritics.com.

brian.mckechnie@citynews.rogers.com

Top image: Michael Fassbender in Hunger. Courtesy Maple Pictures.