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The Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

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The 35th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards was held this weekend at the InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles. The LAFCA is comprised of Los Angeles-based, professional film critics who work in the Los Angeles print and electronic media. LAist was out covering the red carpet of the event and talked with some of the award winners about how they first got involved with their projects and how it feels to be honored by some of the toughest critics in Hollywood.

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Director Louie Psihoyos’ film The Cove tied for Best Documentary/Nonfiction Film with The Beaches of Agnes.

Psihoyos: I went to a marine mammal conference down in San Diego and there were a lot of dry P.H.D.’s giving speeches on the problems facing the ocean and Ric O’Barry was supposed to be a keynote speaker on a video night. Then at the last minute the sponsors of the event, SeaWorld, wouldn’t let him talk and I thought, “Well that’s interesting. Why won’t they let the Flipper guy talk?” So I called him up and asked why they wouldn’t let him talk, he was going to talk about the captive dolphin industry and how it causes the largest slaughter of dolphins on the planet, and I’d never heard of the captive dolphin industry. I never thought about where these animals come from.

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One thing led to another and I basically took a three-day crash course in how to make a film and went to Taiji. I was intending to make films all along -- I’m going to do another one on the oceans. I run the Oceanic Preservation Society. But, you know, driving into Taiji was like driving into a Stephen King novel, but it was real and it was happening right there and it was like, you couldn’t believe it. The whole town was laid out like they love dolphins and whales, and they do love dolphins and whales. They love ‘em with soy sauce. And right in the center of town was this national park that the Japanese people couldn’t go into. It’s one of the most beautiful parks in the world and the people can’t go in, the locals are too busy killing the wildlife. There were so many disconnects on so many levels that I thought this was an interesting story. I was a journalist for 35 years and the antenna started going up, you know, this is a good story.

Best Screenplay went to Sheldon Turner and Director Jason Reitman for their adaptation of Walter Kirn's novel Up in the Air.

Turner: You know, I love Jerry Maguire; it’s one of my favorite movies. That movie makes me cry in the first five minutes. There’s just so much passion. And for me, I wanted to find a redemptive tale and as soon as I read Walter Kirn’s book, I loved the idea of a guy who does that for a living, who fires people. And I thought, “My God. What’s the karmic toll, the psychic toll, of doing that every day?” I just thought it was such an opportunity to have a redemptive tale and I had no idea in 2001, when I started writing it, that there’d be 10.4 percent unemployment, but it’s evolved into that thing. I hate to say you benefit from economic turbulence, but that’s been one of the things. I was always inspired by this one man’s journey and as a single man who struggles with intimacy issues and all the rest, I always related to all that.

LAist: How does it feel to be honored here tonight?

Turner: I can’t even describe it. Especially because the movies that I’ve written before this have been big commercial successes, but they’ve never had this kind of acclaim so it’s nice to have people come up and tell you they’ve been touched by your words. You realize, “This is why I write,” so it’s pretty amazing.

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Reitman: This event tonight is particularly meaningful to me because I grew up in this city. I grew up reading the criticism of the critics of this city. God knows I read so many Kenny Duran pieces that the first time he actually reviewed one of my films, thank God he reviewed it positively, because it would have hurt so badly if he had not. When he reviewed it positively it was one of the great moments of my life.

Jeff Bridges took home Best Actor for the lead role in Crazy Heart, in which he plays an aging, outlaw country singer. In describing what winning this award meant to him, he quoted another character he once played.

Bridges: It’s great to get this recognition, especially for a movie that I’m so happy about, that I had fun making with all my good friends. So the award is basically bringing all this attention to the movie. It’s wonderful. To get that kind of nod tonight from the critics, cause I’m a homeboy, this is my town, man. To get my guys saying, “Attaboy!” It feels great. Critic’s opinions are great. They’re guys who love movies. It’s like The Dude says, “It’s just their opinion.” But it’s nice to know peoples’ opinions.

For a full list of LAFCA award winners, visit their website.

Article by Courtney Quinn