NEW YORK (AP) — Damien Chazelle's Los Angeles musical "La La Land" was named best film of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle.
The group announced their picks Thursday on Twitter, spreading around their awards to a variety of Oscar contenders. The top award came as something of a twist after the critics' early choices leaned toward Barry Jenkins' coming-of-age portrait "Moonlight" and Kenneth Lonergan's grief-filled drama "Manchester by the Sea."
"Moonlight" won awards for best director (Jenkins), best cinematography (James Laxton) and best supporting actor (Mahershala Ali). "Manchester by the Sea" took best actor for Casey Affleck, best screenplay for Lonergan and best supporting actress for Michelle Williams. Williams was honored jointly for her performances in "Manchester by the Sea" and Kelly Reichardt's "Certain Women."
Best film was the sole award for "La La Land," which opens next week. Chazelle's film, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, also led the Critics' Choice Awards nominations on Thursday with 12 nods.
Those three films — "La La Land," ''Moonlight" and "Manchester by the Sea"— have been the favored critics' choices in the early going of Hollywood's awards season. "Moonlight" led the Gotham Film Independent Awards on Monday. "Manchester by the Sea" topped the National Board of Review Awards on Tuesday.
Each group, however, has its own quirks and other favorites — Denzel Washington's "Fences" and Martin Scorsese's late-arriving "Silence," among others — are also in the mix. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will make their picks.
The NYFCC, a body of several dozen New York-area critics, named Isabelle Huppert best actress for her lead performances in Paul Verhoeven's "Elle" and Mia Hansen-Love's "The Things to Come." Best first-film was a tie between Kelly Fremon Craig's teen comedy "The Edge of Seventeen" and Trey Edward Shults' micro-budget family drama "Krisha."
Special awards were also singled out for Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese's longtime editor, and the 25th anniversary restoration of Julie Dash's "Daughters of the Dust."
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP