Chicago's film critics on Dec. 28, 2006 named "The Departed" as their No. 1 movie of 2006, beating out competitors "Babel," "Little Miss Sunshine" "The Queen" and "United 93."
"The Departed," an adaptation of the complex Hong Kong crime drama "Infernal Affairs," won two other awards-Martin Scorsese took Best Director while William Monahan won for Best Adapted Screenplay. The only other film to win multiple prizes was Stephen Frears' "The Queen," which scored two awards.
Forest Whitaker took the Best Actor prize from the Windy City critics for his indelible interpretation of Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland." His tough competition included Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Departed," Ryan Gosling in "Half Nelson," Peter O'Toole in "Venus" and Will Smith in "The Pursuit of Happyness."
British actress Helen Mirren won the Best Actress award for playing another real-life figure, Queen Elizabeth II, in "The Queen," film chronicling the royal family in the days after the tragic death of Princess Di. Her competition included Penelope Cruz for "Volver," Judi Dench for "Notes on a Scandal," Maggie Gyllenhaal for "Sherrybaby," Meryl Streep for "The Devil Wears Prada" and Kate Winslet for "Little Children." "The Queen" also earned Peter Morgan a citation for Best Original Screenplay. "Little Children" didn't go away empty-handed as Jackie Earle Haley was given the Best Supporting Actor award for his comeback performance as a deeply troubled man struggling with the demons still plaguing him. After a long absence from the screen, the former child star beat out the formidable likes of Ben Affleck in "Hollywoodland," Eddie Murphy in "Dreamgirls," Jack Nicholson in "The Departed," Brad Pitt in "Babel" and Michael Sheen in "The Queen."
In a surprise move, Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language World War II epic "Letters From Iwo Jima" came away with the award for Best Foreign-Language Film. The film, which looks at the siege of Iwo Jima from the Japanese point-of-view and conceived as a bookend to Eastwood's American take on the same subject, "Flags Of Our Fathers," beat out such acclaimed titles as Pedro Almodovar's "Volver," Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," Gavin Hood's "Tsotsi" and Mel Gibson's Mayan epic "Apocalypto."
Having led the pack with nine nominations, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's dense drama "Babel" scored the Best Supporting Actress award for newcomer Rinko Kikuchi, whose performance as an emotionally desperate Japanese schoolgirl was routinely cited as one of the acclaimed film's highlights. Kikuchi's competition included "Babel" co-star Adriana Barraza, Cate Blanchett for "Notes on a Scandal," Abigail Breslin and Toni Collette for "Little Miss Sunshine" and Jennifer Hudson for "Dreamgirls."
Two visionary science-fiction films were also honored by the CFCA. Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men," a harrowing glimpse of a future where women can no longer bear children, was given the Best Cinematography prize for Emmanuel Lubezki's breathtaking contributions while Darren Aronofsky's time-tripping epic "The Fountain" earned composer Clint Mansell the Best Original Score award.
"An Inconvenient Truth," a chronicle of Al Gore's lectures on the dangers of global warming, melted away the competition and won Best Documentary over "Deliver Us From Evil," "Jesus Camp," "Shut Up and Sing" and "Wordplay."
First-time filmmaker Rian Johnson was awarded the prize for Most Promising Filmmaker for "Brick," his brilliant debut film that took the classic conventions of film noir and placed them within the confines of a contemporary high school. Finally, Sacha Baron Cohen took away the Most Promising Performing award for his performances in both the controversial hit comedy "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" and the NASCAR spoof "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."
The Chicago Film Critics Association started out in 1988 with six charter members. Today, it has 61 members, including critics from newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio stations, and the Internet. Popular critics Roger Ebert, Richard Roeper and Michael Wilmington are among the roster of CFCA members.