The National Society of Film Critics awarded "Amour" its top honor on Saturday, selecting the film as the year's Best Picture and also naming its director, Michael Haneke, the year's top director.
Haneke's film, set almost entirely in a French apartment, portrays an aging married couple as they adapt to the pressures and limitations of their advancing age. Their love is tested when the wife, portrayed by Emmannuelle Riva, suffers a debilitating stroke.
Critics awarded Riva with Best Actress honors, placing her performance just ahead of Jennifer Lawrence's turn as an emotionally damaged widow in "Silver Linings Playbook."
Riva's co-star in "Amour," Jean-Louis Trintignant, was not among the top vote getters for Best Actor. Daniel Day-Lewis took home that honor for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's film about the United States' 16th president.
"Lincoln" fielded the runners-up in both supporting acting categories, where Matthew McConaughey of "Magic Mike" bested Tommy Lee Jones and Amy Adams of "The Master" surpassed Sally Field.
Spielberg's slice of Americana did come out on top in the screenwriting category, where Tony Kushner's adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" bested Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."
Critics honored Anderson's divisive film, a character study of the leader of a self-help cult and a potential disciple, with Best Cinematography. The film, loosely based on Scientology, has left many feeling cold, but it has a cadre of staunch advocates among critics. It placed second to "Amour" in the Best Picture category.
"The Gatekeepers," a documentary about Israeli security forces, was named Best Documentary while "This is Not a Film," from Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, won Best Experimental Film.
A few awards contenders, such as "Argo" and "Life of Pi," failed to chart in the top three of any category. Meanwhile "Skyfall," the latest James Bond film, earned the second most votes for Best Cinematography.
"Amour" exits the big winner, reflecting the high critical praise lavished on the film, considered a likely but not certain Oscar nominee.
Since its founding in 1966, the NSFC has rarely agreed with the Academy on the year's best film. Only five times in the organization's 46-year history has its winner gone on to take the top Oscar: "Annie Hall" in 1977, "Unforgiven" in 1992, "Schindler's List" in 1993, "Million Dollar Baby" in 2004 and "The Hurt Locker" in 2009.
More typically, the NSFC chooses films like "Waltz With Bashir," "There Will Be Blood," "American Splendour," "Mulholland Drive" and "Breaking the Waves." Last year, it named Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" the year's best film. The movie was shut out at the Oscars.
Here are all the winners:
Best Picture: "Amour"
Best Director: Michael Haneke, "Amour"
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"
Best Supporting Actor: Mathhew McConaughey, "Magic Mike"
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "The Master"
Best Documentary: "The Gatekeepers"
Best Script: "Lincoln"
Best Cinematography: "The Master"
Best Experimental Film: "This Is Not a Film"