The countdown to Oscar continues.
The Online Film Critics Society is the latest group of pundits to release its best-of picks, and the Web geeks have anointed The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers as 2002's top flick.
Proof that sequels don't always suck, the record-breaking second installment of The Lord of the Rings was tapped as Best Film by the Web-based society, which is comprised of 132 critics and cinema journalists whose work is featured on the Internet.
In addition, Kiwi director Peter Jackson was named Best Director, and the movie's Middle Earthlings won kudos for Best Ensemble. The movie also took home technical awards for editing, sound and visual effects.
But Lord of the Rings wasn't the only movie to sweep Monday's hit list. The online critics found Far from Heaven divine: Julianne Moore's turn as lonely 1950s housewife earned her Best Actress, while Dennis Quaid's portrayal of her conflicted husband won him Best Supporting Actor.
The movie, a critical favorite about forbidden love in suburban 1950s Connecticut, earned a total of six awards, including Best Original Screenplay for writer-director Todd Haynes and honors for original score, cinematography and art direction.
The online critics also picked Daniel Day-Lewis as Best Actor for his portrayal of ruthless Bill "the Butcher" Cutting in Gangs of New York.
Steven Spielberg's underappreciated Minority Report was honored with a surprising Best Supporting Actress nod to Samantha Morton.
Newbie Maggie Gyllenhaal was cited for Best Breakthrough Performance for her role in the slap-happy Secretary, while Mark Romanek scored Best Breakthrough Filmmaker for his thriller One Hour Photo. And Charlie Kaufman and his fictitious twin brother, Donald, took home the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay for Adaptation.
Monday's awards mark the third time this season The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers has scored critical accolades. The picture received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Drama and Director. The Broadcast Film Critics Association nominated the Tolkien adaptation for Best Film and Best Digital Performance (for Gollum) and the movie was also named one of the best of 2002 by the American Film Institute.
Still, while the Two Towers lords over the box office, the movie isn't leading the early Oscar derby. The New York Film Critics pegged Far from Heaven as their favorite, awarding the drama top honors in five categories, including Best Film.
Heaven also received a Best Actress trophy for Julianne Moore from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The L.A. critics backed About Schmidt as favorite film of 2002.
Proving that this year could be wide open, Chicago, shut out by the online crits, brought the house down at the Golden Globes with eight nominations.
The Oscar guessing game won't be settled until nominations are announced February 11.
Meantime, here's a complete rundown of the Online Film Critics Society 2002 awards list:
Best Film: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Far from Heaven Best Supporting Actor: Dennis Quaid, Far from Heaven Best Supporting Actress: Samantha Morton, Minority Report Best Ensemble: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Best Breakthrough Performance: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Secretary Best Director: Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Best Breakthrough Filmmaker: Mark Romanek, One Hour Photo Best Screenplay: Todd Haynes, Far from Heaven Best Adapted Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, Adaptation Best Foreign Film: Y Tu Mamá También Best Documentary: Bowling for Columbine Best Animated Feature: Spirited Away Best Editing: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Best Sound: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Best Visual Effects: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Best Original Score: Far from Heaven Best Cinematography: Far from Heaven Best Art Direction: Far from Heaven