Gravity and Her split critics' vote
Tinseltown film critics were split between space odyssey Gravity and futuristic romance Her, lending no more certainty to an awards season that has so far been full of contenders.
The two films shared best picture in the awards announced by the The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, but Gravity was the top award winner. The innovatively made, lost-in-space drama scooped best director (Alfonso Cuaron), best editing (Cuaron and Mark Sanger) and best cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) gongs.
Her, which is about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer operating system (voiced by Scarlet Johansson), won for KK Barrett's sleek, near-future production design. But the critics otherwise spread their honours around.
Dual winners were the theme. Best actress was shared by Cate Blanchett for her fallen socialite in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, and Adele Exarchopoulos for the lesbian coming-of-age tale Blue Is The Warmest Colour, which also won the best foreign language film award.
Best supporting actor was also a tie, with the group jointly honouring Jared Leto's performance as an HIV-positive transsexual in Dallas Buyers Club and, more surprisingly, James Franco's performance as the cornrowed gangster Alien in Spring Breakers.
Best actor went to Bruce Dern for his performance in Alexander Payne's father-son road trip, Nebraska.
Early movie awards can help sort out the Academy Awards race, but they have been particularly varied this year. Last week, the New York Film Critics Circle named David O Russell's Abscam fictionalisation American Hustle best film. The National Board of Review picked Her. The Gotham Awards elected the Coen brothers' folk tale Inside Llewyn Davis as best film.
Meanwhile both the New York Film Critics Online and the Boston Film Critics named 12 Years A Slave best picture. The LA critics also voiced its strong support for the film naming Lupita Nyong'o best supporting actress, and giving a "special citation" to the film's creative team.
Other awards included Before Midnight for best screenplay, Stories We Tell for best documentary, and Ernest And Celestine for best animated film.
Last year, the LA critics chose as best picture Michael Haneke's ageing drama Amour, which went on to win the Oscar for best foreign language film. The association, a group of several dozen film critics, will hand out the awards in a January 11 ceremony in Los Angeles.
Hollywood's awards season continues this week with the Screen Actors Guild nominations, followed by the Golden Globe nominations.