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‘The Social Network’ tops Toronto critics’ picks

The Toronto Film Critics Association confirmed it is a friend of David Fincher's The Social Network, awarding it best picture along with four other prizes at its annual awards vote on Sunday.

The film, about how Harvard freshman Mark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook, the Web's most popular social networking site, also won prizes for best director for Fincher, best screenplay for Aaron Sorkin, best actor for Jesse Eisenberg and best supporting actor for Armie Hammer, who played twin brothers in the movie.

This past weekend was a big one for The Social Network, which also took top prizes from the Los Angeles and Boston critics groups as well as the New York Film Critics Circle and the New York Film Critics Online.

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Though critics have no direct influence on Oscar votes, the publicity generated by the collective critical attention for the film sets it up as the main rival to The King's Speech as the Oscar favourite.

The only other film that took more than one prize from the Toronto critics was the art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop by secretive English street artist Banksy, which won best documentary and best first feature awards.

In other major awards, Jennifer Lawrence won best actress for her performance in the U.S. independent film Winter's Bone, in which she plays a teenager from the Missouri Ozarks who must find her missing father to save her family's home. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who stars in the Coen brothers' True Grit as a girl who hires a U.S. marshal (Jeff Bridges) to avenge her father's murder, took the best supporting actress honours. The film opens on Dec. 22.

Best foreign film went to this year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The best animated film award went to How to Train Your Dragon, in a departure from U.S. critics groups who all gave the prize to Toy Story 3.

Toronto director Daniel Cockburn was named the recipient of this year's Jay Scott Prize for emerging Canadian filmmaker for his film You Are Here. The prize is named after the renowned Globe and Mail critic who died in 1993.

The Toronto association, which consists of 43 broadcast and print journalists from the Toronto area, also announced three finalists for the $15,000 Rogers Best Canadian Feature Award: Incendies, directed by Denis Villeneuve; Splice, directed by Vincenzo Natali; and Trigger, directed by Bruce McDonald. The winner will be announced at an awards dinner on Jan. 12, along with the first Deluxe Student Film Award, which comes with $3,000 worth of postproduction services.

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