“Rings,” “Translation,” “River” Top Latest Crix Picks

As what’s bound to be a close race for Oscar heats up, well-regarded film critics’ associations across the country are weighing in on what was the year’s best–and some of their picks are downright shockers.

The New York Film Critics Circle picked Peter Jackson‘s epic The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as this year’s best picture, while the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics handed out their top honors to Sofia Coppola‘s offbeat comedy Lost in Translation and Clint Eastwood‘s tense Mystic River, respectively, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The New York Film Critics named Translation‘s snarky star Bill Murray best actor and tagged the young Coppola best director. Hope Davis took the best actress award for her performances in American Splendor and The Secret Lives of Dentists. Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo was named best supporting actress for House of Sand and Fog, while Eugene Levy was named best supporting actor for A Mighty Wind. The Brazilian movie City of God was named best foreign film.

NY Film Critics Circle chairman Andrew Johnston told the Reporter there had been a slew of close contests in various categories.

“I think the degree the wealth was spread around reflected how close much of the voting was,” said Johnston. “All the movies that won something were strong contenders in a number of categories.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports both the San Francisco and Boston film critics followed New York in choosing Translation‘s Murray best actor. While Boston critics chose Murray‘s young co-star Scarlett Johansson as best actress, San Francisco critics tagged Charlize Theron best actress for her scary performance in Monster.

The San Francisco group named Peter Jackson best director for his final installment of the Rings, while Boston chose Coppola.

The two groups also agreed on Peter Sarsgaard as best supporting actor for his role as New Republic editor Chuck Lane in Shattered Glass; Patricia Clarkson as best supporting actress for Pieces of April (the Boston group also cited Clarkson‘s work in The Station Agent), and Andrew Jarecki‘s Capturing the Friedmans as best documentary, about the unraveling of a family coping with charges of child molestation.