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French film "Amour" named best film by LA critics

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The French movie about an aging couple, "Amour," was the surprise choice for best film of 2012 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association on Sunday, while Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor for his role as a troubled outsider in the cult drama "The Master."

In a list that broke ranks with early movie award picks in New York, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named Paul Thomas Anderson best director for "The Master" and the film's Amy Adams best supporting actress.

"Zero Dark Thirty," the thriller about the killing of Osama bin Laden, took just one award, for best editing.

Last week, "Zero Dark Thirty" picked up two best picture accolades from the New York-based National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle.

Nominations are to be announced later this week for the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards, in what are likely to be leading indicators for the Oscars in February.

The 60 or so members of Los Angeles Film Critics Association showed wide-ranging tastes and little agreement with awards industry watchers.

Emmanuelle Riva, 85, who plays a retired piano teacher who suffers a stroke in the Cannes film festival winner "Amour," ("Love") was named best actress in a tie with American Jennifer Lawrence, who plays a young widow in the quirky comedy "Silver Linings Playbook."

Supposed Oscar front-runners like actors Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln"), Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty") were shut out by the Los Angeles critics, along with much-anticipated musical "Les Miserables" and epic fantasy "The Hobbit."

Newcomer Dwight Henry won best supporting actor for playing a beleaguered father in mythical indie film "Beasts of the Southern Wild," and the Los Angeles critics gave the best screenplay award to Iran hostage drama "Argo."

Nominations for the Critics Choice awards come on Tuesday, with the Screen Actors Guild announcing their nominations for the best movie and TV performances in the year on Wednesday. Organizers of the Golden Globes unveil their picks on Thursday.

Nominations for the Oscars - the highest honors in the movie industry - are announced on January 10, with the Oscar awards ceremony set for February 24 in Hollywood.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; editing by Christopher Wilson)

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