In what might be called a surprising move, the Chicago Film Critics Association yesterday turned its back on the critically trendy Capote and Brokeback Mountain and instead named Paul Haggis' Crash their best picture of 2005. Based on the words of the group's chairman, it sounds like the voice of one particular Chicago critic had a disproportionate amount of power during decision-making time. Said Dan Gire, "Roger Ebert's over-the-top enthusiasm for the film's quality and message had a great deal to do with providing us the impetus to award it best film." Hmm. So, do they do a ballot-based vote, or just sort of sit in a room, push their favorites, and then raise their hands? It's not as if the latter isn't OK, it's just unclear from the article exactly how things work  - perhaps Mr. Ebert can come by and clarify things for us.

In another break with the mainstream, the CFCA named Joan Allen - an incredibly gifted actress whose lack of recognition has always been completely baffling - best actress for her work in The Upside of Anger. (Good for them - it's about damn time someone gave that woman an award.) The other major categories, however, offered no surprises: Philip Seymour Hoffman was their best actor, David Cronenberg best director, and Grizzly Man best documentary.