NEW YORK - The National Society of Film Critics has named Jean-Luc Godard's 3D film Goodbye To Language the best picture of the year, narrowly choosing it over Richard Linklater's acclaimed Boyhood, for which Linklater won best director.
The group, made up of 59 prominent movie critics from newspapers, magazines and other media outlets, chose Timothy Spall as best actor for Mr Turner, about 19th-century British artist J. M. W. Turner.
Marion Cotillard won best actress for Two Days, One Night, a Belgian drama about a factory worker who must lobby co-workers in order to keep her job.
Best supporting actress went to Patricia Arquette for Boyhood, which chronicles 12 years in the life of a boy and was filmed with the same actor over 12 years. J. K. Simmons won best supporting actor for Whiplash, playing a hard-driving music teacher.
In choosing Goodbye To Language for their top honour on Saturday, the critics departed from other groups such as the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and even the Golden Globes, all of which ignored the film in their annual honours.
The inscrutable film, which even admirers called baffling, involves a married woman and a single man, and a stray dog. Shot in 3D, a second film paralleling the first unfolds during the course of its 70-minute running time.
The critics' awards are among the last in the run-up to the Oscar nominations, to be announced on Jan 15 in Los Angeles. The Academy Awards ceremony is slated for Feb 22.
Godard, 84, is among the world's most acclaimed directors, known for such classics as Breathless, Contempt and Weekend.
The critics also chose Citizenfour, about Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency spying scandal, as best non-fiction or documentary film, while The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson won for best screenplay. Best cinematography went to Mr Turner.
Film heritage honours went to Ron Magliozzi, associate curator, and Peter Williamson, film conservation manager, at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and to Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project, which restores original soundtracks for early sound films.