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LA Critics Favor <i>Insider</i>

The Insider, a movie about a tobacco executive- turned-whistleblower, has reaped four awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, including best motion picture of 1999.

Russell Crowe, named best actor of the year last week by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, won best actor for playing the whistleblower who blasted his former bosses on TV.

Christopher Plummer won best supporting actor for his portrayal of 60 Minutes newsman Mike Wallace, and The Insider cinematographer, Dante Spinotti, was chosen as the best in his field by the Los Angeles film critics.

The Insider tells the story of former Brown & Williamson tobacco executive Jeffrey Wigand, who agreed to go on 60 Minutes in 1995 with accusations of pe8rjury and other wrongdoing by the industry.

At first, CBS caved to pressure from its lawyers who worried that B&W would sue the network for encouraging Wigand to violate a confidentiality clause he signed with the tobacco company. A version of the segment without the explosive Wigand material ran instead.

60 Minutes and CBS have attacked the movie, saying it presents a distorted view of the facts. The filmmakers said The Insider took some artistic license but is a faithful depiction of what happened.

In other awards, Sam Mendes got best director for American Beauty, a dark satire on suburban family life starring Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey.

Hillary Swank was named the top actress for her gender-bending role in Boys Don't Cry, a drama about a young woman who attempts to pass herself off as a young man in a small Nebraska town. Chloe Sevigny won for supporting actress for her work in the movie.

Other picks included Charlie Kaufman for best screenplay for Being John Malkovich; Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother for best foreign film; and Wim Wenders and Ry Cooder for the documentary The Buena Vista Social Club.

The 25th annual awards were announced Saturday and will be presented Jan. 19 at the Belage Hotel.

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