Critically acclaimed drama Far From Heaven swept the 68th annual New York Film Critics Circle awards on Monday, taking five prizes, including Best Picture and Best Director, and setting the stage for one of the most confused Oscar battles in years.
The 34-member New York group's naming of Far From Heaven as Best Picture came after film critic groups in Los Angeles and Boston chose different pictures this weekend.
Los Angeles critics picked Alexander Payne's About Schmidt on Saturday as the year's best picture over Far From Heaven, while Boston critics selected Roman Polanski's Holocaust film The Pianist as its surprise winner. To top it off, the National Board of Review, a longtime film appreciation society, chose yet another film as its best of the year: The Hours, a film based on the life and work of novelist Virginia Woolf.
Critics awards often serve as precursors to the Oscars, which are given out in March. All that is clear at the moment is that there is a strong field with no obvious front-runner.
The New York critics named Far From Heaven's Todd Haynes as Best Director and the film's Dennis Quaid and Patricia Clarkson as Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
In addition, Edward Lachman was named Best Cinematographer for his work on the 1950s drama of a marriage rocked by the husband's affair with another man.
Daniel Day-Lewis was named Best Actor by the New York critics for his work on Gangs of New York, beating out Jack Nicholson, the star of About Schmidt, in what a spokesman for the group said was a closely fought battle.
But in an unexpected upset, Diane Lane was named Best Actress for her role as the roaming wife in Unfaithful, beating Julianne Moore, who was up for her work as the wife in Far From Heaven.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También was named Best Foreign Film, and Japan's Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away was named Best Animated Film.
Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, directed by Paul Justman, was chosen as Best Nonfiction Film, while the award for Best First Feature was given to Roger Dodger.
The New York critics award for Best Screenplay went to Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman.