George Clooney's ''Confessions of a Dangerous Mind'' hadn't rated much buzz in the Oscar sweepstakes -- until now. According to Variety, the Las Vegas Film Critics have named the Chuck Barris biopic the year's best picture, becoming the first critics' group to do so.
However, the Vegas critics didn't give it any other awards, spreading the wealth among such already touted names as Daniel Day-Lewis (best actor for ''Gangs of New York''), Nicole Kidman (best actress for ''The Hours''), and John C. Reilly (best supporting actor for ''Gangs,'' ''Hours,'' and ''Chicago'').
The Vegas critics also gave a boost to the previously unheralded Susan Sarandon for best supporting actress (for ''Igby Goes Down'' and ''Moonlight Mile''). The lion's share of the Vegas awards went to ''The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,'' which picked up best director (Peter Jackson), visual effects, costumes, and film editing.
Another film making its first appearance on top of a critics' group list was ''Road to Perdition,'' which won top honors from critics in Washington, D.C., uniting to present their first-ever best-of list. The D.C. group split directing honors three ways, among ''Perdition'''s Sam Mendes, ''Antwone Fisher'''s Denzel Washington, and ''Adaptation'''s Spike Jonze.
Acting awards went to such Oscar frontrunners as ''About Schmidt'''s Jack Nicholson (best actor) and Kathy Bates (best supporting actress), Julianne Moore (best actress, ''Far From Heaven''), and Chris Cooper (best supporting actor, ''Adaptation''), though Cooper tied with ''Heaven'''s previously ignored Dennis Haysbert.
Screenwriting awards went to ''My Big Fat Greek Wedding'''s Nia Vardalos (winning her first critics' prize) and ''Adaptation'''s Charlie Kaufman. The Washington critics group also marked its first year with a couple of slightly tongue-in-cheek awards: biggest disappointment (''Solaris'') and guilty pleasure (''Undercover Brother'') Alas, there are no Oscars in those categories, but surely the Academy board will meet shortly to correct that oversight.