The New York Film Critics Circle named "American Hustle," a film about 1970s con artists forced to work with the FBI, as best film of 2013 on Tuesday and gave its top acting prizes to Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett in the first major movie honors in the run-up to the Oscars.
British director Steve McQueen won the best director prize for "12 Years a Slave," the historical drama about a free black man sold into slavery and based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup.
Tuesday's awards pit director David O. Russell's "American Hustle," which will be released in U.S. theaters later this month, and "12 Year a Slave," the winner of the top prize at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, as early contenders in the race for the Academy Awards.
Redford picked up the best actor award for his solo performance in the survival drama "All is Lost," and Blanchett was named best actress for her portrayal of a pill-popping former socialite forced to deal with reduced circumstances in Woody Allen's film "Blue Jasmine."
Actor Jared Leto won the best supporting actor prize for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" as an HIV-positive transgender woman who helps smuggle medication not approved in the United States to AIDS patients.
The New York Film Critics Circle, which announced the awards on Twitter, gave Jennifer Lawrence, last year's best actress Oscar winner for her role in "Silver Linings Playbook," the best supporting actress prize for playing the ditzy, bored housewife in "American Hustle."
The film also won the best screenplay award for Eric Singer and Russell.