The New York Film Critics Circle on Monday named Facebook film The Social Network the best movie of the year, and gave its best director honor to the movie's maker, David Fincher.
Armond White, chairman of the influential critics group and chief critic for The New York Press, said the choice did not come on the first tally of members, but they began to narrow their picks by a second round, eventually deciding on Social Network.
I guess that it is an indication there was a wide range of movies to choose from, he told Reuters.
In other key awards, Annette Bening was named best actress for her portrayal of a lesbian mother in The Kids Are All Right, and Colin Firth took the prize for best actor for his role as a stammering British monarch in The King's Speech.
Social Network, which tells of the early days of the popular website Facebook from its founding to its first million members, has scored well with critics and audiences since its debut earlier this year.
This weekend, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association picked it as their top movie of 2010, and earlier this month, the U.S. National Board of Review also named it best movie.
Awards from critics groups and other industry panels often influence which films, performers and filmmakers will compete for Oscars, the movie industry's top honors.
White said the New York Film Critics group, judging by their pick, likely related to the story in the Social Network because it documents the rise of a new type of media outlet.
Since we are a group of media people a lot of members responded to its presentation of one of the most important media tools of our age, he said.
While Social Network took two honors from the New York critics group, independent film The Kids Are All Right claimed three overall. Adding to Bening's best actress award, writer/director Lisa Cholodenko and co-writer Stuart Blumberg were given best screenplay, and Mark Ruffalo, playing a sperm donor dad, was named best supporting actor.
Veteran Melissa Leo was named best supporting actress playing a domineering mother in boxing movie, The Fighter.
Matthew Libatique was given the award for best cinematography with ballet drama The Black Swan.
Best animated movie went to The Illusionist, best non-fiction film to Inside Job, foreign language to Carlos, and best first feature to Australian movie Animal Kingdom.
(Editing by Jill Serjeant)