The San Francisco, San Diego and St. Louis film critics announced their best-of lists yesterday, and I have to confess to a sense of growing tedium. Okay, there are two or three variations (thank God), but mainly they’re all marching in lockstep with the status-quo faves. Half award-giving, half photo-copying.

At least the St. Louis gang gave their Best Supporting Actress award to Doubt‘s Viola Davis — good call. And their Best Actress award to Revolutionary Road‘s Kate Winslet — check. Their Best Picture award went to The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button…okay. But their remaining awards were the same old Slumdog/Boyle/WALL*E/Man on Wire blah-dee-blah. Wait…they gave Burn After Reading their Best Comedy award! Agreed and then some.

I respect the judgment (as well as the local sentiment) that led the SF contingent to pig out on Milk — i.e., Best Picture, Best Director for Gus Van Sant , Best Original Screenplay to Dustin Lance Black, Best Actor (tied with The Wrestler‘s Mickey Rourke) for Sean Penn. But too many critics orgs have tumbled for Happy Go Lucky‘s Sally Hawkins . It’s starting to feel like a cross between a personality fetish (how can anyone actually fall for Hawkins’ Poppy character?) and a herd mentality thing.

The only stand-out calls from the San Diego film critics was handing their Best Actress award to Kate Winslet for The Reader and not Revolutionary Road — figure that one out — and Tom McCarthy‘s The Vistor winning for Best Original Screenplay.

Otherwise they went the lazy conformist route — Slumdog Millionaire for Best Picture, Danny Boyle for Best Director, The Wrestler‘s Rourke and Tomei for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively, Ledger for Best Supporting Actor, etc. The Best Documentary award went to Man on Wire…of course. Best Animated Film, WALL*E…what else?

The San Diego-ans also handed their Body of Work award to Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Burn After Reading, Step Brothers, The Tale of Despereaux) as a sop for not winning Best Actor.