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Weir's ‘Master’ wins UK critics’ awards

Penn named best actor; Eastwood wins best director
/ Source: Reuters

“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” sailed to victory at the London Film Critics’ Circle awards Wednesday, beating Oscar favorite “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” to the best film title.

The sea-faring tale also scooped prizes for Paul Bettany as best British actor, and for John Collee and Peter Weir as best screenwriters.

“It feels epic, the only thing more epic than the film,” Bettany told Reuters at the awards ceremony at London’s Dorchester Hotel.

William Russell, chairman of the Critics’ Circle, said: “The British are an island race, which is probably why ‘Master and Commander’, a rip roaring tale of life at sea in the age of sail, swept the board in our awards.”

Just days before Sunday’s Baftas, known as the British Oscars, the Americans also scored well, with Clint Eastwood taking the best director accolade and Sean Penn named best actor for U.S. murder story “Mystic River.”

But despite being tipped for Oscar glory after winning four U.S. Golden Globe awards last month, the final installment of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was overlooked by the 100 British critics who make up the Critics’ Circle.

British romantic comedy “Love Actually” took two honors. Emma Thompson won best British actress in a supporting role and Bill Nighy scooped best British actor in a supporting role.

Celebrating her award, Thompson took a swipe at critics, saying: “It was very unusual to receive such a thing. You usually think of critics as sadists.”

Nighy added: “With comedy, it’s not a dispute. It’s either funny or it’s not funny and I guess this award means it was funny.”