Film critics give top awards to 'Pulp Fiction,' Leigh, Newman


"Pulp Fiction," the exuberant, innovatively structured crime drama directed by Quentin Tarantino, was named the best film of 1994 by the National Society of Film Critics yesterday. Voting at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, the 42-member group also cited Mr. Tarantino as best director and gave its best-screenplay prize to him and Roger Avary as the film's co-writers.

Jennifer Jason Leigh was voted best actress for her performance as the caustic, brittle heroine of "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle." Diane Weist was named best supporting actress for playing a grandly theatrical diva in "Bullets Over Broadway." "Red," the last film in Kryzsztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy, was voted best foreign film.

Paul Newman was chosen as best actor for his performance in "Nobody's Fool" as an amiable failure in an upstate New York town, and Martin Landau was voted best supporting actor for playing an endearingly cranky Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood."

One interesting peculiarity of the voting was that Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a Bible-quoting hit man in "Pulp Fiction," was first runner-up in both the best actor and best supporting actor categories.

The group's cinematography award went to Stefan Czapsky, for his richly varied black-and-white work in "Ed Wood." The best-documentary prize went to "Hoop Dreams," the keenly watchful study of two high school basketball players and their families, which was also a runner-up (after "Red") in the best-film category.

Special citations for experimental work were awarded to "Satantango," a seven-hour Hungarian film by Bela Tarr, and "The Pharaoh's Belt," an animated film by Lewis Klahr.

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