Third org gives highest kudos to Focus pic

Gaining kudos-season steam after being named the year’s best pic over the weekend by critics orgs in Los Angeles and Boston, “Brokeback Mountain” climbed to the summit of the New York Film Critics Circle’s annual best-of list Monday.

In current release through Focus Features, the lit adaptation — tagged as a “gay Western” and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger — also won director honors for Ang Lee and the actor nod for Ledger.

Gotham critics voting Monday said “A History of Violence,” “The Squid and the Whale” and “Capote” were all strong runners up for best pic but fell just short in close voting.

Bennett Miller was honored as first-time helmer for his direction of Sony Pictures Classics’ “Capote.”

Reese Witherspoon was the circle’s fave actress of the year for her role as country music prodigy June Carter in Fox’s Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.”

New Line’s “A History of Violence,” meanwhile, scored a double-barreled win in the supporting acting categories: The Gotham critics chose William Hurt and Maria Bello for its supporting actor and actress nods, respectively. “Violence,” by David Cronenberg, centers on a Middle American family put to the test by crime.

Two Werner Herzog docus were chosen to share the nonfiction film honor, “Grizzly Man” (Lions Gate) and “The White Diamond.”

Wong Kar Wai’s sci-fi epic “2046,” starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Gong Li and Ziyi Zhang and distribbed by Sony Pictures Classics, was named foreign film of the year and also drew the circle’s cinematography nod.

The Gotham critics further picked Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” (Disney) as the top animated pic, beating out Nick Park’s “Wallace & Gromit” feature and Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride.”

Writer-helmer Noah Baumbach’s semiautobiographical tale of a quirky Brooklyn family, “The Squid and the Whale” (Samuel Goldwyn), took screenwriting honors.

Thirty-member New York Film Critics Circle, headed by Newsday film critic Gene Seymour, cast its ballots Monday at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan.

Seymour said that while voting was competitive, the winners did present themselves clearly, without much arguing between critics.

Org’s awards gala will be held Jan. 8 at Cipriani’s 42nd Street in Gotham.

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