December 15th, 2003 by SFFCC

The San Francisco Film Critics Circle has named Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” as its Best Picture of 2003, the group announced Monday.

Best Director honors went to New Zealander Peter Jackson for “The Return of the King,” the third and final installment of his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic book “The Lord of the Rings.”

The group, which includes 20 film critics from around the Bay Area, also picked “Lost in Translation” star Bill Murray as Best Actor for his wistful, tender and often funny portrayal of an aging movie star spending a jet-lagged week in a Tokyo hotel.

Best Actress honors went to Charlize Theron for her persuasive and potent portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film “Monster,” slated for limited release on December 26.

Peter Sarsgaard won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Shattered Glass” as Chuck Lane, the editor who uncovered fabrications by New Republic reporter Stephen Glass. “Pieces of April” star Patricia Clarkson was named Best Supporting Actress. She played a sardonic cancer patient reluctantly reuniting with her wayward daughter for Thanksgiving dinner.

Best Documentary was awarded to Andrew Jarecki’s “Capturing the Friedmans,” which followed the dissolution of a Long Island family in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse. Best Foreign Film honors went to the Belgian film “The Son.”

A special citation dubbed the “Better Late Than Never” award went to the groundbreaking film “Russian Ark,” which was filmed in a single take. Though the film technically had a 2002 release, it didn’t open in many markets, including the Bay Area, until 2003 and SFFCC members said they wanted to recognize its achievement.

The group also announced establishment of an annual honor to be bestowed on a Bay Area filmmaker, the Marlon Riggs Award. Riggs was a documentary filmmaker (“Ethnic Notions,” “Tongues Untied,” “Black is…Black Ain’t”) and professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He died in 1994 at the age of 37, leaving behind a legacy of unfailingly honest, innovative and courageous filmmaking. In bestowing the award, the group will recognize achievement in a similar vein. The first recipient is documentarian Sam Green, who in his 2003 film “The Weather Underground” had the daring, in these politically charged times, to take a clear-eyed look back at the titular 1960s radical group and the rage that fueled its acts of urban terrorism. Green co-directed the film with Bill Siegel.

Best Picture
“Lost in Translation”

Best Director
Peter Jackson for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

Best Actor
Bill Murray for “Lost in Translation”

Best Actress
Charlize Theron for “Monster”

Best Supporting Actor
Peter Saarsgard for “Shattered Glass”

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Clarkson for “Pieces of April”

Best Foreign Language Film
“The Son”

Best Documentary
“Capturing the Friedmans”

Marlon Riggs Award for courage & vision in Bay Area filmmaking
Sam Green, co-director of “Weather Underground”

Special Citation
“Russian Ark”
(better late than never to honor a brilliant, innovative film released too late to honor in 2002)

Members of the SFFCC include critics from the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune, the Contra Costa Times, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express, the San Jose Metro, Palo Alto Weekly, the Marin Independent Journal, the San Francisco Examiner, KRON-TV, Variety, CultureVulture.net and Splicedwire.com.

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