* Kathryn Bigelow named best director for "Zero Dark Thirty"
* Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field win acting nods for
* Rachel Weisz wins best actress for post-war British film
(Adds awards, details)
NEW YORK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The New York Film Critics Circle
on Monday picked action thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" as best film
and gave its top acting honors to Daniel Day-Lewis and Rachel
Weisz in the first major movie awards of the season leading up
to Hollywood's Oscars.
U.S. filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow won best director for "Zero
Dark Thirty," based on the decade-long U.S. operation to kill
Osama bin Laden and billed as a cinematic look at "the greatest
manhunt in history."
Bigelow's film, which stars Jessica Chastain as a young
female CIA officer doggedly pursuing bin Laden for years through
a long-forgotten courier, has yet to be released but has already
gained buzz in early screenings for critics.
After Monday's nod from the New York film critics, "Zero
Dark Thirty" is positioned as one of the front runners in the
race for this year's Academy Awards, the film world's highest
honors, which are handed out in February.
Day-Lewis won for his performance as President Abraham
Lincoln in "Lincoln," while Britain's Weisz was a surprise
choice for the New York critics' best actress award for her
portrayal of Hester Collyer in romantic drama "The Deep Blue
Sea," set in post-World War Two Britain.
Sally Field was named best supporting actress for her
performance opposite Day-Lewis as Mary Todd Lincoln in
"Lincoln," the tale of Lincoln's battle to outlaw slavery. It
was written by playwright Tony Kushner, who also picked up the
best screenplay award.
Actor Matthew McConaughey won best supporting actor for his
performances in "Bernie" and raunchy comedy "Magic Mike."
NOTHING FOR 'LES MIS'
Notably absent from the list of winners was "Les
Misérables," the first big movie adaptation of the popular stage
musical. It stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway
and was directed by "The King's Speech" Oscar-winning director
Tom Hooper. The movie has been gaining critical buzz in preview
Also missing from the list of winners was Ben Affleck's
well-received Iran hostage thriller "Argo."
The New York based film critics organization was founded in
1935 and comprises members from newspapers, magazines and some
Awards from the critics and movie industry groups often
influence which films, performers and film makers will compete
for the Oscars, which are given out by the Beverly Hills-based
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
"Zero Dark Thirty," saw its release date pushed back to Dec.
19 after the film got caught up earlier this year in a U.S.
The makers of the film - "The Hurt Locker" Oscar winners
Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal - recently denied a claim
they were given classified material for their research but said
they did conduct interviews with a CIA officer and others at the
heart of the hunt for the al Qaeda leader.
The New York critics group's pick for best documentary went
to "The Central Park Five," Ken Burns' examination of the 1989
case of five black and Latino teenagers whose convictions of
raping a white female jogger were overturned after they spent
years in prison.
Best foreign language film went to Austrian director Michael
Haneke's "Amour," a tale of an elderly couple facing the tragic
march of death, while best animated feature went to
The critics awarded best cinematography to Greig Fraser for
"Zero Dark Thirty" and best first film went to nonfiction film
"How To Survive A Plague," David France's documentary about the
first nine years of AIDS advocacy group ACT UP.
The organization announced the awards via Twitter.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Jill Serjeant and