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"American Hustle" named best of 2013 by N.Y. film critics

NEW YORK - David O. Russell's "American Hustle," a glitzy period comedy based on the FBI's ABSCAM sting operation of the 1970s, was named Best Picture of 2013 by the New York Film Critics Circle.

The film won three awards, including for Jennifer Lawrence (last year's Oscar-winner for Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook") as Best Supporting Actress. "American Hustle" also won for Best Screenplay.

Steve McQueen won the Best Director prize for "12 Years a Slave," the brutal, true-life account of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South. 

In one of the most competitive years ever for actors, Robert Redford won the critics group's Best Actor Award for his solo performance as a sailor facing disaster at sea in J.C. Chandor's "All Is Lost."

The 77-year-old Redford beat out a field that included such veterans as Bruce Dern ("Nebraska"), Tom Hanks ("Captain Phillips"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Wolf of Wall Street"), Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club"), and Joaquin Phoenix ("Her"), as well as relative newcomers Chiwetel Ejiofer ("12 Years a Slave"), Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis"), and Michael B. Jordan ("Fruitvale Station").

Cate Blanchett, the star of Woody Allen's serio-comic "Blue Jasmine," won the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of a materialistic society woman whose world collapses when her Bernie Madoff-esque husband loses his fortune, leading her to escape back to her working-class family.

Jared Leto won the Best Supporting Actor Award for his performance as a transgender AIDS patient in "Dallas Buyers Club."

"Inside Llewyn Davis," the Coen Brothers' evocative story of a singer struggling to define success in the folk music scene of the early 1960s, picked up a nod for its cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, beating out "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave" and "Captain Phillips."

The results of today's voting were announced, one by one, on Twitter.

"Blue Is the Warmest Color," director Abdellatif Kechiche's deeply intimate portrait of a young woman's coming-of-age (including her NC-17-rated relationship with an older lesbian), won the Best Foreign Film Award.

Should "Blue Is the Warmest Color" have been given an NC-17 rating?

Best First Film went to director Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station," which recreates the last day of Oscar Grant, who was killed in 2009 by a transit officer on an Oakland BART train platform.

"Fruitvale Station": Recreating a tragic loss of a life

Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki, who received the critics' prize (and an Oscar) for his 2002 fantasy, "Spirited Away," won the Best Animated Film Award for his historical tale, "The Wind Rises."

The documentary award went to "Stories We Tell," Canadian writer-director Sarah Polley's examination of her parents' relationship and the discovery that she was born from her mother's extramarital affair.

The group also gave a special career award to filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, whose iconoclastic documentaries -- usually employing fly-on-the-wall camerawork and no voice-over narration -- have covered such subjects as mental institutions, hospitals, schools, and police work. His most recent film is "At Berkeley," a 4.5-hour study of upper education at a public university undergoing drastic budget cuts.

The New York critics' choices are the first major announcement of winners in the awards season, and a major precursor for Academy Award nominations (to be announced on January 16).  The group is comprised of nearly 40 print and online reviewers for New York City area media outlets.

However, the NYFCC and AMPAS don’t often square up with their final choices.  Last year, the critics' group picked Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor for "Lincoln," and "Amour" for Best Foreign Film, but none of its other choices matched the list of Oscar winners. ["Zero Dark Thirty," for example, lost the Best Picture Oscar to "Argo."]

Shut out from today's prizes: "August: Osage County," "Captain Phillips," "Enough Said," "Frances Ha," "Gravity," "Her," "The Invisible Woman," "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "Mud," "Nebraska," "Prisoners," "Short Term 12," and "The Wolf of Wall Street."

The New York Film Critics Circle Awards will be handed out in January. 

2013 NYFCC Winners:

Best Picture: "American Hustle"

Best Actor: Robert Redford, "All Is Lost"

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"

Best Director: Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"

Best Screenplay: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, "American Hustle"

Best Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel, "Inside Llewyn Davis"

Best Foreign Film: "Blue Is the Warmest Color," directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

Best Animated Film: "The Wind Rises," directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Best Non-Fiction Film: "Stories We Tell" by Sarah Polley

Best First Film: Ryan Coogler, "Fruitvale Station"

Special Award: Frederick Wiseman

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