New York Newsday critic Gene Seymour will take over as chairman ofthe New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) this year as the group prepares tounveil its award winners on Dec 12.

Over the years the group has demonstrated a hit-and-missrecord as an Oscar bellweather, and members' sensibilities are less commercialand more artistically-driven than those of mainstream Academy voters.

However, last year three NYFCC winners went on to claim the Oscar:Clint Eastwood for best director for Million Dollar Baby, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for bestadapted screenplay for Sideways, and The Incredibles for best animated feature.

"We've already got an interesting selection of potentialwinners to consider," Seymour said.

Voting for the 71st NYFCC awards will take place at The AlgonquinHotel in New York, followed by the annual awards dinner on Jan 8, 2006.

The NYFCC awardswill be posted on Dec 12 on the official website at