An animated film won the latest pre-Oscar prize. But it wasn't WALL-E.
Waltz with Bashir, filmmaker Ari Folman's stylish documentary about the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, was named Best Picture Saturday by the National Society of Film Critics. WALL-E tied for second with the British comedy Happy-Go-Lucky.
Sean Penn picked up yet another Best Actor win for Milk. Happy-Go-Lucky's Sally Hawkins added to her nearly as big Best Actress haul.
Cruz, who has virtually swept the critics awards for Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, finished third in voting behind Doubt's Viola Davis, who took second, and Hanna Schygulla, who won for the German film, The Edge of Heaven.
Ledger, The Dark Knight Oscar favorite, took second to British actor Eddie Marsan of Happy-Go-Lucky, which dominated with four wins, including two for filmmaker Mike Leigh (Best Director and Best Screenplay).
Frost/Nixon and Revolutionary Road were among the award-season contenders to be denied even mentions. Slumdog Millionaire claimed Best Cinematography, but nothing else.
The National Society of Film Critics is no servant to your office Oscar pool. Since 2000, only one of its Best Picture picks, Million Dollar Baby, has repeated with a win at the Academy Awards.
Next up on the award-season circuit: next Sunday's Golden Globes. Oscar nominations are out Jan. 22.
Here's a rundown of the winners of the 43rd Annual National Society of Film Critics Awards: