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State critics like 'Adaptation'

The movie won four awards, including best picture, in voting by critics around Florida.

By STEVE PERSALL, Times Film Critic

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 3, 2003

Spike Jonze's loopy blend of fact and farcical fiction, Adaptation, was named best film of 2002 by the Florida Film Critics Circle on Thursday.

The story of a screenwriter (Nicolas Cage) in the throes of writer's block adapting an esoteric, bestselling book while his twin brother (also Cage) pens a cliched hit won four awards. Meryl Streep was named best supporting actress for her role as real-life author Susan Orlean, and Chris Cooper was selected best supporting actor for playing the backwoods subject of her book, The Orchid Thief.

Adaptation's elliptical script by Charlie Kaufman (sharing credit with his fictional twin brother, Donald) was chosen as the year's best screenplay. Cage plays characters named Charlie and Donald Kaufman in the film, another example of Jonze's strange method of storytelling.

However, in the best director category, Martin Scorsese won for his sprawling historical epic Gangs of New York. Daniel Day-Lewis was named best actor for his portrayal in that film of "Butcher Bill" Cutting, the cannily savage leader of intolerant 19th century New Yorkers battling immigration.

Todd Haynes' salute to 1950s melodrama, Far from Heaven, also won two prizes. Best actress honors went to Julianne Moore for her performance as a housewife discovering her husband is homosexual, then beginning a scandalous relationship with her African-American gardener. Edward Lachman's period-perfect cinematography was named the best camera work of 2002.

Moore previously won the Florida critics' best supporting actress award for Boogie Nights in 1997.

Other award-winners include the ensemble cast of Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, which included Alan Arkin, John Turturro, Matthew McConaughey and Clea DuVall. The Japanese anime fantasy Spirited Away was named best animated film.

Mexico's blend of sex and social commentary, Y Tu Mama Tambien, was chosen as the year's best foreign-language film, and Michael Moore's gun-control rant, Bowling for Columbine, was voted the best documentary.

The reunion concert of the Funk Brothers with contemporary artists singing hits they played behind artists such as Marvin Gaye and the Temptations led to a best musical score prize for the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. The sultry Cell Block Tango from Chicago won best song, a puzzling decision because the number was part of the Broadway score in 1975. That song bested Eminem's Lose Yourself (8 Mile) in a voting runoff.

Actor Maggie Gyllenhaal of the kinky comedy Secretary won the Pauline Kael Breakout Award, named in honor of the late New Yorker film critic.

The Golden Orange for Outstanding Contribution to Film is shared by producer Amy Hobby (Secretary, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing) "for consistent excellence and adventurousness in film production" and Sunshine State filmmaker John Sayles for "witty satire that insightfully examines Florida's historic past, expanding present and uncertain future."

The Florida Film Critics Circle is composed of 13 print media journalists from around the state: Steve Persall (St. Petersburg Times), Bob Ross (Tampa Tribune), Lance Goldenberg (Weekly Planet), freelance writers Philip Booth and George Meyer, Jay Boyar (Orlando Sentinel), Hap Erstein (Palm Beach Post), Jeff Farance (Daytona Beach News Journal), Phoebe Flowers (StreetMiami), Todd Anthony (South Florida Sun-Sentinel), Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald), Matthew Soergel (Florida Times-Union) and Steve Schneider (Orlando Weekly).

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