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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 January 2007, 10:54 GMT
Film critics honour The Departed
Martin Scorsese
Scorsese said he was 'surprised' to win the award

Martin Scorsese's gangster film The Departed has taken top honours at the 12th annual US Critics' Choice Awards.

The film, starring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, took the best picture and best director awards.

Offbeat comedy Little Miss Sunshine and the musical Dreamgirls took four awards each, while Dame Helen Mirren won best actress honours for The Queen.

The awards are given by the Broadcast Film Critics' Association, who have a reputation for picking Oscar winners.

Scorsese, whose films include Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, is yet to win an Oscar either for best picture or best director.

The Departed is also nominated for six Golden Globe awards, due to be announced next week.

Martin Scorsese's The Departed
Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio star in The Departed

"I am pleased by this award and surprised. Maybe it's because this is the first picture I made with a plot," he joked after receiving the best director's award.

Actor Forest Whitaker beat Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio to win the best actor award for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

Both Whitaker and Dame Helen are favourites going into the Oscars race for the best actor and actress crowns.

Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson of Dreamgirls earned honours in the best supporting actor and actress categories.

The film also earned an award for best soundtrack, while co-star Beyonce won for best song for Listen.

Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine stars Toni Collette and Steve Carrell

Little Miss Sunshine, about a dysfunctional family on a road trip across the US, took the awards for best acting ensemble, and the best writing award for Michael Arndt.

The film's Paul Dano and Abigail Breslin won the awards for best young actor and young actress.

There was also success for the British film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which took the best comedy prize.

Spoof journalist Borat - also known as comedian Sasha Baron Cohen - thanked all those Americans who are yet to sue him, a reference to the lawsuits filed against him by people who say they were duped into appearing in the film.

Pixar's Cars won the award for best animated feature film, while the best documentary prize was won by former US Vice President Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

The awards were presented by Penelope Cruz, Toni Collette, Steven Spielberg and Spike Lee, among others, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

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