Party Of The Week: Clooney a winner over dinner with the critics

George Clooney showed off his beard at the New York bash for the Film Critics Circle Awards at the glitzy Crimson club on Monday night.

Clooney was accompanied by his girlfriend, Elisabetta Canalis, an Italian television presenter and model, as he was given the Best Actor award for his performances in Up in the Air and Fantastic Mr Fox, ahead of the Academy Awards in March. Meryl Streep, who won Best Actress for Julia & Julia, chatted to Lynn Redgrave at the cocktail reception before dinner. She was joined by the former Sopranos actor James Gandolfini, who collected an award for In The Loop, in which he starred. The Armando Iannucci film, a spin-off from the BBC comedy The Thick of It, won Best Screenplay.

The Chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle, Armond White, made the most of meeting the director Kathryn Bigelow, who was named Best Director for her Iraq war movie, The Hurt Locker, which also won Best Film. The two had not seen each other since they were film students at Columbia University and White had always been a big fan of the music video Bigelow made for New Order in 1987, for the song "Touched by the Hand of God".

The Metropolitan director Whit Stillman was in deep conversation with the director of Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas, the winner of Best Foreign Language Film. The director of the British film Hunger, Steve McQueen, who won Best First Feature, stuck close to the film's star, Michael Fassbender.

In his acceptance speech, Clooney offered comforting words to the film critics who had voted for him. His dad had been a reporter, he said, and he understood how difficult it was for journalists losing their jobs due to the shrinkage of newspapers.

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