Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

New York critics back Penn's Milk

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk
Milk is due to be released in the UK on 23 January

Milk, starring Sean Penn as gay rights leader Harvey Milk, was named best film by the New York Film Critics Circle.

Penn won best actor for playing the US politician, who was assassinated in 1978. Co-star Josh Brolin picked up the best supporting actor award.

Former Oscar winner Penn was also named best actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association on Tuesday. The film is directed by Gus Van Sant.

Nominations for key awards, the Golden Globes, are announced later.

The shortlist, announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is considered to be a guide to which films and actors will feature in the Oscar nominations, to be announced on 22 January.

British success

Former Oscar nominee Penelope Cruz was named best supporting actress by New York Film critics for her role in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

There was also British success for Mike Leigh and Sally Hawkins.

Leigh was named best director for Happy-Go-Lucky, and Hawkins picked up the best actress award for her role as a 30-something school teacher in the film.

Hawkins was also announced as best actress by Los Angeles critics on Tuesday.



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