"The Hurt Locker" is turning into the little film that could.  At least with critics that is. 

Kathryn Bigelow's impressive war thriller has now won both Best Picture awards from the nation's most prestigious critics groups, the Los Angeles Film Critics and the New York Film Critic's Circle. Not an easy feat. The only film to match that accomplishment this decade is "Brokeback Mountain" and only five since 1990 ("Mountain," "Schindler's List," "Leaving Las Vegas," "L.A. Confidential" and "Saving Private Ryan").  Additionally, Mo'Nique, Christoph Waltz and Meryl Streep's wins are cementing their status as frontrunners for Oscar in their respective categories.

The complete winners list and analysis for the 2009 New York Film Critics’ Circle Awards:

Best Film:
The Hurt Locker

Reaction: This was a tad unexpected.  Not many would have guessed that both the LA and NY critics would go for "Hurt."  This was probably the one chance "A Serious Man" had at major critical recognition and even "Up in the Air" was believed to have a shot here.  Nope.

Best Director:
Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”

Reaction: "Up in the Air" may be the "movie of the moment," but Bigelow winning the Oscar for Best Director is increasingly becoming "the award of the moment."  It's time and deserved.

Best Screenplay:
"“In the Loop”

Reaction: As a good friend of mine would remark, "happy, happy, joy, joy."  Any recognition "Loop" continues to receive is A-OK in this pundit's book.

Best Actress:
Meryl Streep for “Julie & Julia”

Reaction: The trend everyone will soon be talking about.  Could Streep finally be on her way to Oscar No. 3?


Best Actor:

George Clooney for “Up In The Air” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Reaction:  Can't really fault this win considering how fantastic, no pun intended, Clooney was in "Fox" as well as "Air."  It seems as though its going to be a two-man race between Clooney and Jeff Bridges for the Best Actor Oscar.  SAG may tell the tale.

Best Supporting Actress:
Mo’Nique for “Precious”

Reaction: If she wins the Globe this may become the biggest lock of Oscar night.


Best Supporting Actor:
Christoph Waltz for “Inglourious Basterds”

Reaction: If he wins Globe and SAG this may be the second biggest lock of Oscar night.

Best Cinematography:
Christian Berger for “The White Ribbon”

Reaction: As someone who studied cinematography in film school I'm still not understanding the love for Berger's work here.

Best Animated Film:
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Reaction:  How unhappy is John Lassiter today after "Up" loses both premier critics group awards? Very.


Best Non-fiction Film:

“Of Time and the City”

Reaction: Haven't seen it, but somewhat unexpected.

Best Foreign Language Film:

“Summer Hours”

Reaction: Another trend.  Also, a film few have seen outside the cineaste.

Best First Feature:

“Hunger,”  director Steve McQueen

Reaction: Nice recognition for the British newcomer.

Special Award -To Andrew Sarris for his contribution to film criticism
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Reaction: Got to give the love to one of your own.