Ellar Coltrane as Mason in Richard Linklater's "Boyhood."

Ellar Coltrane as Mason in Richard Linklater's "Boyhood." Credit: IFC / Matt Lankes

"Boyhood" led the New York Film Critics Circle awards Monday, winning three awards, including best film.

Surprise winners included Timothy Spall as best actor in "Mr. Turner," a biographical film about the painter J.M.W. Turner, and Marion Cotillard as best actress in two films, "Two Days, One Night" and "The Immigrant," which also won best cinematography by Darius Khondji.

"This was perhaps the most eclectic, least predictable movie year in recent memory," said Stephen Whitty, current chair of the Circle and film critic for the Newark Star-Ledger.

Founded in 1935 and currently consisting of 34 voting members, the New York Film Critics Circle has a long history of making contrarian choices. This year's picks, for example, bypassed Oscar front-runners such as "The Theory of Everything," "Birdman" and "Wild" in favor of lesser-known films. (Full disclosure: This writer is a voting member of the Circle).

Richard Linklater won best director for "Boyhood," which also earned Patricia Arquette a supporting actress award for her role as a single mother. The supporting actor award went to J.K. Simmons as an abusive music teacher in the indie drama "Whiplash." The award for best screenplay went to Wes Anderson for "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

Other award-winners included "The Lego Movie" for best animated film; "Citizenfour," Laura Poitras' documentary on Edward Snowden, for best non-fiction film; and "The Babadook," an Australian horror film written and directed by Jennifer Kent, for best first film. "Ida," a Polish drama set in the aftermath of the Holocaust, won best foreign-language film.

The New York Film Critics Circle's awards gala will take place Jan. 5. A special award will be given to Adrienne Mancia for shaping the cinematic tastes of New Yorkers as the Museum of Modern Art's film curator for more than 30 years.

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