I love when the critics groups have a variety of choices for best and don't just try to match the Oscar buzz top 5 choices...
The NBR chose Slumdog Millionaire, but the LA Critics have a surprise choice (as they sometimes do, like their 2003 selection of American Splendor) for best film...they chose Wall-E (which did make the NBR's top 10).
The LA Film Critics awards are important in Oscars predictions to me because these critics often choose more "critical" fair, but they chose the smaller-type of pics and performances that might need the critical buzz to get them into the top 5. An LA Film Critics endorsement is a big bonus.
I've posted the winners and runners up below...but as I see it...the big buzz winners are...Sally Hawkins & the Happy-Go-Lucky film as a whole, as well as Wall-E, Melissa Leo (who's probably competing with Hawkins for spot 5), and The Dark Knight & Christopher Nolan(who have increased validity as a best pic nod with the LA endorsement), and Waltz With Bashir (will it get an animated nod at the Oscars??? ).
I figure Ledger, Rourke, Penn, Cruz, and Viola Davis were in good Oscar position anyways pre LAFCA.
Picture: "Wall-E"(Runner-up: "The Dark Knight")
Director: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire" (Runner-up: Christopher Nolan, "The Dark Knight")
Actor: Sean Penn, "Milk"(Runner-up: Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler")
Actress: Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky" (Runner-up: Melissa Leo, "Frozen River")
Supporting actor: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight" (Runner-up: Eddie Marsan, "Happy-Go-Lucky")
Supporting actress: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and "Elegy"(Runner-up: Viola Davis, "Doubt")
Screenplay: Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"(Runner-up: Charlie Kaufman, "Synecdoche, New York")
Foreign-language film: "Still Life" (Runner-up: "The Class")
Documentary: "Man on Wire" (Runner-up: "Waltz With Bashir")
Animation: "Waltz With Bashir"
Cinematography: Yu Lik Wai, "Still Life" (Runner-up: Anthony Dod Mantle, "Slumdog Millionaire")
Production design: Mark Friedberg, "Synecdoche, New York" (Runner-up: Nathan Crowley, "The Dark Knight")
Music/score: A.R. Rahman, "Slumdog Millionaire" (Runner-up: Alexandre Desplat, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button")
Last Years LAFCA winners were probably a little more in line with eventual Oscar winners then this years...but who knows...maybe the LA Film Critics will set some trends we'll see followed up??
(My most recent Oscar predictions for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Picture)