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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 11:52 GMT
Splendor leads LA critics' awards
American Splendor is based on the life of a comic book writer
Independent movie American Splendor has been voted the best film of 2003 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

The film, about an idiosyncratic comic book artist, also won best screenplay.

The critics had cancelled the awards in a row over studios banning DVD previews of movies - but reversed the decision after a court overturned the ban.

Peter Jackson won best director for The Return of the King, Bill Murray took best actor for Lost in Translation, and 21 Grams' Naomi Watts won best actress.

Double honours

No film won more than two awards, with three films sharing double honours.

The Return of the King also won for best production design, while The Triplets of Belleville - known as Belleville Rendez-Vous in the UK - won two awards for best animation and best music/score.

American Splendor stars Paul Giammati as comic book icon Harvey Pekar.

Bill Nighy in Love Actually
Bill Nighy was recognised for work in four roles
It was named film of the year by the National Society of Film Critics in the US.

It has also won two prizes from the New York critics, five Independent Spirit nominations, and one Golden Globe nomination for supporting actress Hope Davis.

In a surprise move, British actor Bill Nighy won best supporting actor for his work in four movies, AKA, I Capture the Castle, Lawless Heart and Love Actually.

Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo won the best supporting actress prize for House of Sand and Fog.

Girl With A Pearl Earring won the cinematography award, while the film's 19-year-old star, Scarlett Johansson, who also appeared in Lost in Translation, received a special "new generation" award.

The awards will be presented on 26 January, a day before the Oscar nominations are released.

The New York critics chose The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as best picture.

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Critics honour American Splendor
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