Silence can speak a thousand words and, perhaps, collect a handful of hardware.

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association on Tuesday named the Disney-Pixar charmer WALL-E the Best Picture of 2008, the first time the cinema-honoring society has ever tapped an animated film for its top prize.

Already garnering speculation about a possible run at Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars, this is looking to be a very joyous awards season for the detritus-collecting robot and his Buster Keaton-caliber mode of silent expression.

The same can be said for The Dark Knight's Heath Ledger, who, a day after being singled out by Washington, D.C.-area critics, was once again plucked from the murk, mire and moral corruption of Gotham City to be named Best Supporting Actor for his killer turn as the Joker in Christopher Nolan's billion-dollar Batman sequel, which also ran second to WALL-E in the Best Picture category.

Also getting their due in the City of Angels were Sean Penn, named Best Actor for playing 1970s-era gay rights activist Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's Milk, and Penélope Cruz, who was doubly honored for her supporting work in Elegy and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Danny Boyle was named Best Director for the big buzz-getter of the moment, Slumdog Millionaire, while Nolan had to settle for runner-up status.

The L.A. Critics picked Happy-Go-Lucky star Sally Hawkins for Best Actress, loving her scene-stealing, deceptively complex turn as the impossibly cheerful center of Mike Leigh's latest film.

Happy-Go-Lucky was also a winner for Leigh's screenplay, while Best Foreign-Language Film Still Life and Slumdog Millionaire also notched two wins apiece.

The L.A. Film Critics Association Awards, honoring achievements on both sides of the camera, will be passed out at a ceremony in mid-January.

Here's the complete list of winners:

• Film: WALL-E
• Director:
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Actress: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Screenplay: Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz, Elegy and Vicky Christina Barcelona
Foreign Language Film: Still Life
Documentary/Non-fiction Film: Man on Wire
Production Design: Mark Friedberg, Synecdoche, New York
Animation Waltz With Bashir
Music/Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
Cinematography: Yu Lik Wai, Still Life
New Generation: Steve McQueen, Hunger
Career Achievement: John Calley
Douglas E. Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video: James Benning, RR and Casting a Glance

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