Controversial movie Brokeback Mountain is leading the Oscar race after winning three prizes at the influential Critics' Choice Awards last night (09JAN06).
Lee told the audience at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, California, "I used to say that I didn't believe in competition among film-makers but, what the hell, this is great!
"We trusted the tale and it led us to where it wanted to go. We are getting a better reception than we thought."
And George Clooney was honoured with the Freedom Award for his sophomore directorial effort GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, for which he was hailed for "shining a light on a crucial moment in (US) history illustrating the impact and importance of courage and integrity in broadcast journalism."
The full list of winners is:
Best Picture - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Best Actor - PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN in CAPOTE
Best Actress - REESE WITHERSPOON in WALK THE LINE
Best Supporting Actor - PAUL GIAMATTI in CINDERELLA MAN
Best Supporting Actress - AMY ADAMS in JUNEBUG; MICHELLE WILLIAMS in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Best Acting Ensemble - CRASH
Best Director - ANG LEE for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Best Writer - PAUL HAGGIS, BOBBY MORESCO for CRASH
Best Animated Feature - WALLACE + GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT
Best Comedy Movie - THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN
Best Picture Made for Television - INTO THE WEST
Best Documentary Feature - March of the Penguins
Best Foreign Language Film - Kung Fu Hustle
Best Song - HUSTLE + FLOW by Terrence Howard, from HUSTLE + FLOW
Best Soundtrack - WALK THE LINE
Distinguished Achievement in Performing Arts - Andy Serkis
Freedom Award - GEORGE CLOONEY.