Chicago is 10th critics' group to honor ''Rings.'' Bill Murray and Charlize Theron pick up additional acting kudos

By Gary Susman
January 22, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Add Chicago to the travel itineraries of Peter Jackson and Sofia Coppola. On Wednesday, the Chicago Film Critics announced their award winners, giving three prizes each to ”The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and ”Lost in Translation.” The Windy City group named ”Return” the year’s Best Picture, becoming the 10th critics group to do so, and they also gave the film honors for Best Director (Jackson) and Best Music Score (Howard Shore).

”Translation” earned yet another Best Actor citation for Bill Murray, as well as Best Screenplay honors for Coppola and a Best Cinematography prize for Lance Acord. Charlize Theron continued to build ”Monster” Oscar momentum with a Best Actress win. Supporting Acting honors went to ”Mystic River”’s Tim Robbins and ”Pieces of April”’s Patricia Clarkson. The critics gave Best Documentary kudos to Errol Morris’ ”The Fog of War” and named Brazil’s ”City of God” Best Foreign Film.

The Chicago Film Critics will hand out trophies to the winners at a ceremony in April, two months after the Academy Awards. Usually, the ceremony is held before the Oscars, but the Academy moved its own ceremony up a month to Feb. 29 this year, and the Motion Picture Association of America’s ban on sending year-end ”screener” videos of eligible movies to critics added to the Chicago group’s delay. Initially, the Chicago group scrapped its awards altogether in protest of the ban’s potential harm to the fortunes of smaller, sparsely distributed films. But they reinstated the awards when the ban was overturned in court last month.