Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, ...
Credit: Brokeback Mountain: Kimberley French

And they’re off…in the race for Oscar!

Jumping out to an early lead, it’s Brokeback Mountain (left, costarring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger), fueled by Best Picture nods from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Boston Society of Film Critics over the weekend, but dark horse The Squid and the Whale is in hot pursuit after taking home top honors from the New York Film Critics Online.

Don’t count out Capote, either, especially not with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the saddle. His performance won the best actor prize from the Los Angeles critics, while Vera Farmiga was named best actress for Down to the Bone. The group gave supporting actor nods to the prolific Catherine Keener (for her work in Capote, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Interpreter, and The Ballad of Jack and Rose) and to A History of Violence‘s William Hurt. Best director went to Brokeback‘s Ang Lee.

The Boston critics (whose ranks include PopWatch’s leading man Gary Susman) concurred with their
Left Coast colleagues in the best picture, best director, best actor, and best supporting actress categories. They awarded Reese Witherspoon the best actress prize for her performance in Walk the Line, and Paul Giamatti with the best supporting actor award for Cinderella Man.

New York’s online critics made it a clean sweep of the weekend’s awards for Seymour Hoffman, but respectively spread the wealth for best actress, best supporting actress, best supporting actor, and best director among Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice), Amy Adams (Junebug), Oliver Platt (Casanova), and Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener).

The American Film Institute also placed its bets this weekend, by naming its own list of the year’s 10 best movies: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Good Night, and Good Luck, A History of Violence, King Kong, Munich, The Squid and the Whale, and Syriana.

Do any of the above winners make your personal awards list? Or are there any glaring omissions? Holla back!

addCredit(“Brokeback Mountain: Kimberley French”)