Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making "Boyhood" has been named best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle.
"Boyhood" also won best director for Linklater and best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette in the awards announced Monday. The strong support from one of the country's top critics groups gives "Boyhood" an early boost in Hollywood's lengthy awards season. The film, which had production stretch out over years to capture the passage of time, is considered an Oscar front-runner.
Best actor went to Timothy Spall for "Mr. Turner," Mike Leigh's biopic of the British painter J.M.W. Turner. Marion Cotillard was awarded best actress for her performances in both James Gray's Ellis Island period tale "The Immigrant" and the Dardenne brothers' workplace drama "Two Days, One Night."
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Best supporting actor went to J.K. Simmons who plays a taskmaster conductor at an elite jazz conservatory in "Whiplash."
The New York Film Critics Circle, a body of New York-based critics founded in 1935, often diverges from the season's favorites. (Its last two best picture picks were "American Hustle" and "Zero Dark Thirty.") But they can also add momentum to films or performers previously not as much on the awards-season radar.
Spall, increasingly seen as an outsider to big names like Micheal Keaton ("Birdman") and Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game"), may see his fortunes rise. So too may Cotillard, who has thus far been largely eclipsed by actresses such as Reese Witherspoon ("Wild") and Julianne Moore ("Still Alice").
The critics also shined a light on "The Immigrant," a film released early in the year and not a big part of the Weinstein Co.'s Oscar push. In addition to the nod to Cotillard, the film's Darius Khodji was named best cinematographer.
The irreverent toy movie "The LEGO Movie" took best animated film. The acclaimed black-and-white Polish drama "Ida" won best foreign film. Laura Poitras' documentary on Edward Snowden, "Citizenfour," earned best non-fiction film.
Best screenplay went to "The Grand Budapest Hotel," a script Wes Anderson wrote, crediting the writings of Austrian author Stefan Zweig for inspiration.
Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent took the honor for best first film for her "The Babadook," the just-released horror thriller about a widow, her young son and a children's book monster.
Awards will be handed out at a ceremony Jan. 5 in New York. Last year's gala drew headlines when the critic Armond White was accused of heckling "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen, a charge White denied. White was later expelled from the group.