Milk, Sean Penn

Focus Features

Gay-rights activists, protesting California's gay-marriage-banning Proposition 8, declared today Day Without a Gay. Milk made its presence felt anyway.

The Harvey Milk biopic won three awards, for Best Picture, Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Supporting Actor (Josh Brolin), from the New York Film Critics Circle.

The Mike Leigh art-house confection Happy-Go-Lucky took two awards, for Leigh, named Best Director, and its British star Sally Hawkins, named Best Actress.

If you were looking for Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and maybe even Heath Ledger, you were looking at the wrong awards.

The New York critics don't do Oscar favorites or A-list names just because; they are ruled by their idiosyncratic tastes. In 2006 they named United 93 Best Picture; at the Academy Awards the unflinching 9/11 tale didn't even make Oscar's Best Picture top five.

Maybe appropriately, then, their praise of Milk, a film that stands as tribute to its convention-tweaking subject, the nation's first openly gay man elected to a prominent office, coincided with gay-rights supporters being urged to call in "gay" and stay home from work.

The critics did go with the buzz flow in naming WALL-E Best Animated Film, and Penélope Cruz Best Supporting Actress for Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

If you're still looking for Pitt, Jolie and Ledger, try tomorrow morning when the Golden Globe nominations report for work.

Here's the complete list of winners:

  • Film: Milk
  • Director: Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
  • Actress: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, Milk
  • Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Screenplay: Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married
  • First Film: Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
  • Foreign Film: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
  • Animated Film: WALL-E
  • Documentary: Man on Wire
  • Cinematographer: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
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