Tom McCarthy's "Spotlight," the drama about a group of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, was named the best film of 2015 on Sunday by the National Society of Film Critics. McCarthy and Josh Singer also won screenplay honors for the film.
"Spotlight" has received top honors from several critics' groups including the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., and won best feature at the Gotham Independent Film Awards. The drama is nominated for Golden Globes, Spirit and Screen Actors Guild awards.
"Carol," a lush drama about two women who have an affair in the 1950s, was runner-up for top picture with "Mad Max: Fury Road" taking third. Writer Charlie Kaufman ("Anomalisa") placed second in the screenplay category, while Charles Randolph and Adam McKay came in third for "The Big Short."
The NSFC, which includes principal critics from major newspapers and outlets, named Todd Haynes top director for "Carol." McCarthy was runner-up in the category with George Miller coming in third for "Mad Max: Fury Road."
"Carol" also won cinematography honors for Ed Lachman, with Mark Lee Ping-bin placing second for "The Assassin" and John Seale coming in third for "Mad Max: Fury Road."
The lead actor award went to Michael B. Jordan for his portrayal of boxer Apollo Creed's illegitimate son in the "Rocky" sequel "Creed." Charlotte Rampling was named lead actress as a married woman who learns a secret about her husband in the drama "45 Years."
Géza Röhrig was runner-up in the lead actor category for "Son of Saul" while Tom Courtenay ("45 Years") placed third. Saoirse Ronan was runner-up for lead actress for "Brooklyn", while Nina Hoss took third place for "Phoenix."
Mark Rylance won supporting actor for his role as a Soviet intelligence officer in "Bridge of Spies." Kristen Stewart was supporting actress winner for her role as an assistant to an international movie star in "Clouds of Sils Maria."
Michael Shannon came in second for supporting actor for "99 Homes" and Sylvester Stallone placed third in the category for "Creed." Alicia Vikander ("Ex Machina") was runner-up for supporting actress, with Kate Winslet ("Steve Jobs") and Elizabeth Banks ("Love and Mercy") tying for third.
Mauritania's "Timbuktu" won the award for foreign-language film. The runner-up in the category was "Phoenix," while "The Assassin" placed third. The nonfiction film honors went to "Amy," the documentary about the short, tragic life of singer Amy Winehouse. "In Jackson Heights" was the runner-up and "Seymour: An Introduction" placed third.
Out of the 53 members, 38 voted at Sunday's meeting at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Center at Lincoln Center in New York using a weighted ballot system.
Three Film Heritage Awards were also announced:
— Film Society of Lincoln Center and programmers Jake Perlin and Michelle Materre for the series "Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986"
— The Criterion Collection/L'Immagine Ritrovata for the restoration and packaging of "The Apu Trilogy" by Satyajit Ray
— Association Chaplin for supervising the digital restoration of Charlie Chaplin's Essanay films.
There was also a special citation for a film awaiting American distribution: Radu Muntean's "One Floor Below"
The meeting was dedicated to the late longtime critic at Time magazine Richard Corliss — "not just a writer of extraordinary intelligence, wit and energy, but a generous friend and colleague."
The NSFC, which began 50 years ago, has rarely matched up in its top choices with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In fact, they have only seen eye to eye for the top film five times: 1977's "Annie Hall"; 1992's "Unforgiven"; 1993's "Schindler's List"'; 2004's "Million Dollar Baby"; and 2009's "The Hurt Locker."
Last year, the NSFC chose Jean-Luc Godard's "Goodbye to Language 3D," while the Oscar went to "Birdman."