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L.A. and New York critics may soon trip up the derby

Los Angeles New York Film Critics

The next dramatic twists in the Oscar derby track come Sunday, Dec. 12, and Monday, Dec. 13, when voting occurs at the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the New York Film Critics Circle. Both groups' awards have had profound effects on Oscars in the past like last year when they propelled "The Hurt Locker" ahead in the best picture race. In previous years, they gave key pushes to "Unforgiven," "The Silence of the Lambs" and actress Marcia Gay Harden.

Sometimes the critics' groups like to shake things up by picking offbeat stuff like the Los Angeles group naming "WALL-E" best picture two years ago. "WALL-E" didn't have the clout to win the equivalent prize at the Oscars, but "Toy Story 3" does, so watch out.

But also watch out for really wacky choices too, particularly at the Gotham ballot session where all of the following received votes for best actress in past years: Bianca, the blow-up sex doll from "Lars and the Real Girl"; Eve, the fiesty female robot in "WALL-E"; and Tom Cruise in "Vanilla Sky." Yes, you read that correctly: Tom Cruise.

-- Tom O'Neil

Photos: "Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM), "WALL-E" (Pixar)

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