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Toronto critics name The Master top movie of 2012

This undated file handout film image released by Weinstein Co. shows Joaquin Phoenix, left, and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a scene from The Master.

Uncredited/AP

The Toronto Film Critics Association bowed to The Master in its annual rating of the year's best movies, giving Paul Thomas Anderson's film awards for best picture, best director, best screenplay and a best supporting actor prize to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays a huckster cult leader to Joaquin Phoenix as his unmanageable follower.

In other major awards, best foreign film went to Amour, Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or-winning study of an elderly couple battling with disability, while best documentary went to Canadian Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell, exploring a family secret from various perspectives. Best animated film went to Chris Butler and Sam Fell's supernatural kids' tale Paranorman.

The group of more than 40 critics and film journalists gave the best actor award to Denis Lavant in Leos Carax's experimental drama Holy Motors, in which he plays a man on a series of strange assignments for which he must assume different character roles.

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Best actress went to Rachel Weisz for her role as an adulterous wife in director Terence Davies' adaptation of the Terence Rattigan drama The Deep Blue Sea. Best supporting actress went to Gina Gershon in William Friedkin's Texas noir Killer Joe. Best first feature was a tie between Benh Zeitlin's bayou-set fable Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Canadian director Panos Cosmatos's science-fiction drama Beyond the Black Rainbow.

Yet to come are the TFCA's two Canadian awards, the $5,000 Jay Scott Award for emerging artist and what will be the biggest arts award in Canada, the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, worth $100,000 for its director (with $5,000 prizes for each of the runners-up). They will be revealed at the 16th annual TFCA gala awards dinner to be held at the Carlu in Toronto on Jan. 8.

Runners-up for the TCFA's best picture award this year were Haneke's Amour and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, which is so far the favourite with most American critics' groups, despite recent controversy regarding the accuracy about the depiction of the effectiveness of torture. The film opens across Canada on Jan. 11.

Zero Dark Thirty was the top pick by critics' associations in New York, Boston and Chicago, as well as the National Board of Review, though the Los Angeles group went with Amour, the Southeastern Film Critics Association with Argo, and San Francisco critics with The Master.

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Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More

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