There's no way a movie award night can go wrong if you throw in some Hollywood glitz, an entertaining emcee, and "Glee" star Jane Lynch.
The Chicago actress was honored with the "Comedia Extraordinaire" award on Saturday night at the 24th Chicago Film Critics Association awards, held at Muvico Theater in Rosemont.
The Rolling Meadows High School show choir, the Leading Ladies, performed a vivacious tribute to Lynch, who became a household name for her role as a cheerleading coach in the musical comedy TV series.
"I don't identify myself as much in this life because I feel it paints you into a corner, but I always say, 'I'm an actor and I'm a Chicagoan,'" Lynch said. "I'm proud to be an Irish-Catholic girl from the South Side," she added.
The CFCA bestowed the best picture award to "Zero Dark Thirty," Kathryn Bigelow's film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The movie also earned Bigelow a best director award, and Jessica Chastain a best actress award.
The best actor award went to Daniel Day-Lewis for his role in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."
Among Saturday night's presenters were "Saturday Night Live" veteran Joe Piscopo -- who sang a Frank Sinatra-inspired version of the national anthem -- and "Flight" actress Nadine Velazquez.
ABC 7's "Windy City Live" roving reporter Mark DeCarlo served as the emcee, delighting the audience with barbs directed at movie critics, mock reviews of Muvico's popcorn and seats, and quips about Chicago's erratic, hot-and-cold weather.
"Chicago has menopause -- and that's how we keep the riff raff out," DeCarlo said.
Acting is about careful study, and the ability to conjure "a childlike belief in the imaginary," said Paul Sorvino, who was honored with the "Commitment to the Craft" award.
That's what Sorvino said he did when he played a gay character in "Bulworth" and had a flirty scene with Warren Beatty.
The trick? Imagining that Beatty was actually a woman wearing a mask, Sorvino said.
"I did one take, and you could believe that he was my long lost love," said the actor, best known for his mob boss role in "Goodfellas."
"The Invisible War" won for best documentary for putting the spotlight on the estimated half million sexual assaults that have taken place within the military.
Dann Gire, the Chicago Film Critics Association's board president, called it "the most powerful documentary I've ever seen." Gire is also the Daily Herald's film critic.
Among the victims featured in the documentary is Kori Cioca, who was brutally assaulted while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard.
"It's a very dark place after you're raped," said Cioca, who accepted the award on behalf of the producers.
Local filmmakers George Tillman Jr. and Robert Teitel, both Columbia College graduates, were honored with the "Commitment to Chicago" award.
The pair said they are currently working on pitching a TV series based on their 2004 hit "Barbershop," which was partially shot in Chicago.
"We shoot here even when it doesn't make sense," he said. "Three of our six movies were shot in January and February, in the dead of winter."
Goodman Theatre playwright Regina Taylor received the Oscar Micheaux Award for her role in breaking down barriers between races and cultures. As an actress, Taylor's credits include "Clockers" and "Courage Under Fire."
"It was my mother who gave me the gift of creativity," she said. "How to use that, harness that as a survival tool. How to dream."
Columbia College student Michael Wytrykus won the Emerging Filmmakers contest for his animated film "Play Date." He got a $5,000 scholarship sponsored by Joe Perillo.
For the complete list of winners, visit chicagofilmcritics.org.