In the first major movie award announced this year, "Brokeback Mountain," Ang Lee's sweeping drama about the doomed love affair between two cowboys, was voted Saturday as best picture of 2005 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. Lee also won best director honors.
Edgy independent films dominated the acting categories. Best actor honors went to Philip Seymour Hoffman for his performance as writer Truman Capote in "Capote." Vera Farmiga was chosen best actress as a woman with a secret drug habit trapped in a stale marriage in the low-budget film "Down to the Bone."
The L.A. film critics chose William Hurt as best supporting actor for his role as a colorful gangster in "A History of Violence" -- the film was a close runner-up in the best picture category. Catherine Keener was named best supporting actress for her body of work this year in "Capote," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "The Interpreter" and "The Ballad of Jack and Rose."
There was a rare tie in the screenplay category between Dan Futterman ("Capote") and Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale").
Noticeably missing from the L.A. critics awards were some of the end-of-the-year big studio films, including the yet-to-open "Munich" by director Steven Spielberg, "King Kong" by director Peter Jackson and "The New World" by director Terrence Malick.
The L.A. Film Critics Assn. presented the first major movie awards of the season. Usually, the National Board of Review is first out of the starting gate but because of an eligibility list snafu, the group will not announce its choices until Monday, the same day the New York Film Critics Circle votes.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will announce its nominees for the Golden Globes on Tuesday morning.
"We really did end up not going with anything big," Henry Sheehan, president of the L.A. Film Critics Assn., said after the vote. "There was some support for 'King Kong' for cinematography and production design, but there was almost nothing for 'Munich,' maybe a couple of acting votes, but very scattered."
The 31st annual awards ceremony is set for Jan. 17 at the Park Hyatt in Century City.
Other winners include "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit" for best animated film, "Grizzly Man" for best documentary and "Cache" for best foreign-language film.
The group will present a special citation to Kevin Thomas, a veteran Los Angeles Times film critic, for his contribution to film culture in Los Angeles.
The critics group and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have not seen eye to eye on a best film since 1993's "Schindler's List." "Sideways," last year's big winner with the L.A. film critics, won only one Oscar, in the adapted screenplay category.
"I have to say I don't want to put anybody down, but our members see quite literally hundreds of films a year," Sheehan said, "so we know as good as some of these performances and achievements in mainstream Hollywood films may be, there are greater achievements out there in independent and foreign films. I think Vera Farmiga is a perfect example of that."
Other winners include:
* Production design: William Chang, "2046"
* Cinematography: Robert Elswit, "Goodnight, and Good Luck"
* Music/Score: Joe Hisaishi and Youmi Kimura, "Howl's Moving Castle"
* The Douglas Edwards Experimental/Independent Film/Video Award: "La Commune (Paris 1871)" by Peter Watkins
* Career Achievement: Richard Widmark
* New Generation: Terrence Howard