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British talent centre stage at Film Critics Awards

February 11, 2004
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The sea-faring epic Master And Commander has sailed to victory at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards. The swashbuckling adventure beat Oscar favourite Lord Of The Rings to take the best film gong, as well as scooping best British actor for Paul Bettany.

"It feels epic – the only thing more epic than the film," he said after receiving the prize. The flick's leading man Russell Crowe lost out in the best actor category, which went to Sean Penn for his portrayal of a vengeful father in Mystic River. The heart-wrenching drama also garnered a best director trophy for Hollywood veteran Clint Eastwood.

The delightfully English Love Actually also put in a strong showing, with Emma Thompson taking best British actress and Bill Nighy winning best British actor in a supporting role. "It was very unusual to receive such a thing," joked Emma. "You usually think of critics as sadists."

Wednesday's awards, which come in the run-up to Sunday's Baftas, were handed out in the plush surroundings of the Dorchester Hotel. Presiding over the ceremony was writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, who's expecting her first child.

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Photo: ©
Bill Nighy and Emma Thompson are obviously delighted after winning acting gongs for the hit comedy Love Actually. Bill's portrayal of a has-been rock star has been a huge hit with cinema audiencesPhoto: © PA
Photo: ©
London-born Paul Bettany was recognised for his role as the ship's surgeon in Master And Commander. The actor will next be gracing our screens in the leading man in tennis movie WimbledonPhoto: © PA

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