Broadcast Film critics name 'Saving Private Ryan' best film
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From Correspondent Paul ClintonEditor's note: Clinton is a founding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- "Saving Private Ryan" has won yet another award on its gallop towards the Academy Awards: the Broadcast Film Critics Association named the World War II movie the best of the year during its annual luncheon Monday.
The accolades, given out at an awards luncheon reminiscent of a morning-after party following a wild celebration, came just hours after the movie and its director, Steven Spielberg, won Golden Globes for best motion picture drama and best director, respectively.
"There are three movies that I am exceptionally proud of in my life, and I rarely commit to a list of films that I like, that I've made," Spielberg said as he picked up his awards, "but these are the three films that I was passionately connected to. The first was 'ET,' the second 'Schindler's List,' and third is 'Saving Private Ryan.'"
Spielberg kidded that he found this award, given by critics, to be a nice change of pace. "It's great being honored by critic organizations, because so often they dishonor you with bad reviews. So this is a wonderful change."
Presenting Spielberg's directorial award was Drew Barrymore, who at the age of six starred in "ET." She said Spielberg was the father she always wanted. Spielberg in turn called her the child he always wanted (at the time of "ET," 1981, he had no children).
He said, "I was really sad everytime the shooting was over everyday 'cause Drew went home with her mom, and I really wanted to be her dad. I just didn't want to have to marry her mom. So we worked things out and got around the mom thing, and we have been close, like father and daughter ever since, and to receive this award from Drew is wonderful."
Most winners already announced
The Broadcast Film Critics Association is the largest critics association in the nation, with 130 active members who review films for television, radio and the Internet. All of the BFCA winners are announced ahead of time except for the Best Picture award. This year "Saving Private Ryan" bested nine other candidates, including "The Thin Red Line," "Gods & Monsters," and "Shakespeare In Love."
Already in the winner's list for this year's BFCA awards were Australian actress Cate Blanchett for her role as the virgin queen in "Elizabeth," and Sir Ian McKellen, named best actor for his work in "Gods and Monsters." The Italian-made "Life is Beautiful" was named best foreign film.
Best supporting actor went to Billy Bob Thornton ("A Simple Plan"), while Joan Allen ("Pleasantville") and Kathy Bates ("Primary Colors") tied for best supporting actress. Although the awards were announced in December, the actors did not receive the awards until Monday.
Upon receiving her award, Blanchett dedicated it to director Shekhar Kapur for casting her "on instinct, not with any concern to box office, so I thank him eternally."
Ian McKellen accepted his Best Actor award for both "Apt Pupil" and "Gods & Monsters" by saying, "Critics have always rather liked me, I don't know why." McKellen is getting a lot of attention this year for both of his current films. "It's rather late in the day," he said, "but I'm turning myself into a movie actor and it feels good."
Roberto Benigni, who accepted the Best Foreign Film award for his Holocaust comedy "Life Is Beautiful," bounced onto the stage, saying, "My heart is swollen over in gratitude, I am overflowering joy for this gladness you gave to me."
First Pakula award goes to Travolta
John Travolta, who was in the running for a Golden Globe for his work in the drama "Civil Action," lost to Jim Carrey in "The Truman Show." But he was all smiles as he accepted the first Alan J. Pakula Award at the luncheon.
The award, named after the longtime director who died in a traffic accident last year, is designed to honor an actor or filmmaker whose work is judged by the BFCA's Board of Directors as having had the most significant social impact of the year.
Travolta, along with his wife Kelly Preston, was on hand to accept the award from Pakula's widow Hannah. Before handing off the award, she talked about her late husband, who directed such classics as "All the President's Men" and "Sophie's Choice."
"Alan's films were about a lot of things," she said, "but I'm particularly proud that your association has chosen to honor his initiatives in asking the really important questions of our time."
For his part, Travolta said, "When I first started making films like 'Saturday Night Fever' and 'Urban Cowboy,' those were accidents as far as social impact is concerned and we didn't know what we were doing as far as the effects they would have. But when you make decisions like 'Primary Colors' or 'A Civil Action,' those are bolder and kind of dangerous in a way because you can't be guaranteed that anyone will come to them.
"I really can't do it without you (the film critics) because these kind of films don't survive out there without your acknowledgement," he continued. "We have to be a team here, otherwise we can't survive very well."
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