Sir Michael Caine received a boost in his bid for a best actor Oscar last night when he was voted best actor at the 23rd London Film Critics' Circle awards. He beat stiff competition from Al Pacino, in Insomnia, and from fellow Oscar rival Jack Nicholson, in About Schmidt, to land the prize for his performance in The Quiet American.
The film of Graham Greene's novel also secured Philip Noyce the best director honour in a ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
Caine, 69, learnt on Tuesday that he had been nominated for the best actor Oscar but will have to wait until 23 March for the result. He appear at the Dorchester to present an outstanding contribution award to another film veteran, the director Lewis Gilbert, 82, whose credits include Alfie and Educating Rita in which Caine starred.
Other awards went to Stockard Channing, as best actress in The Business of Strangers, and About Schmidt which was named film of the year. Hugh Grant's performance in About a Boy won him the best British actor title and Lesley Manville scooped the British actress award for Mike Leigh's film about a south London housing estate, All or Nothing, which was also voted British film of the year.
Kenneth Branagh was best British supporting actor as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Emily Watson was named best British supporting actress for the Hannibal Lecter sequel Red Dragon.
The best British newcomer award was shared by the Bend It Like Beckham star Keira Knightley and Martin Compston, for his debut performance in Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen. Last night's ceremony raised funds for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
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