Brokeback Mountain and happy endings don't go together--except on Saturday night, when the drama about cowboys in dangerous love was named Best Picture by the Los Angeles Critics Association.

And so began award-show season...

With the National Board of Review delaying its picks until Monday, the Los Angeles critics are the first out of the gate as the run-up to the 78th Annual Academy Awards commences.

Overall, Brokeback Mountain, which opened in theaters Friday, won two awards, including one for director Ang Lee.

The L.A. critics showed the most love to Capote, a biopic about Truman Capote's struggles and deceptions during the writing of his landmark nonfiction crime title, In Cold Blood. The movie won a total of three awards for Philip Seymour Hoffman (Best Actor), ex-Judging Amy star Dan Futterman (Best Screenplay, an honor shared with Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale) and Catherine Keener (Best Supporting Actress, an honor shared with herself for her work in The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Interpreter).

In other top awards, William Hurt was named Best Supporting Actor for A History of Violence; and Vera Farmiga, heretofore not a usual suspect for Oscar buzz, was tapped Best Actress for Down to the Bone, a drama a drug-addicted housewife that has "grossed" $19,723, per BoxOfficeMojo.com, since opening last month.

The obscure Farmiga might be regarded as a quintessential L.A. critics pick. In 30 previous award-show events, the association's Best Picture winners have gone onto claim the Academy Award only seven times. Rather than serve as a bellwether for the Oscar, the L.A. awards serve as a booster. Last year, Sideways began its unlikely drive for five top Oscar nominations by claiming a Best Picture win from the L.A. Critics Association. (In the end, though, Sideways lost out for the top Academy prize to Million Dollar Baby.)

Movies that might have gotten a bigger push from the L.A. critics, but didn't, included: George Clooney's McCarthy Era drama Good Night, and Good Luck, singled out only for Best Cinematography; Hustle & Flow, represented only in that star Terrence Howard was honored with the group's New Generation award for a breakthrough performance; and Crash, a look at hyper-racism in Los Angeles, which came away with nothing.

Unlike many of the other awards, the L.A. Critic s Associations reveals the identities of its runners-up. As such, A History of Violence was almost the winner as Best Picture and Best Director (David Cronenberg), Judi Dench was almost Best Actress for Mrs. Henderson Presents, and Heath Ledger was almost Best Actor for Brokeback Mountain. In the supporting acting categories, Keener edged out Junebug's Amy Adams; Hurt prevailed over Good Night, and Good Luck's Frank Langella.

The critics will hand out their awards in a ceremony in Los Angeles (natch) on Jan. 17.

The coming days, meanwhile, will bring much award-show business. The NBR and New York critics are due to unveil their year-end awards on Monday; nominations for the Golden Globes are due out Tuesday.

Here's a complete look at the winners of the 31st Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards:

Picture: Brokeback Mountain Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote Actress: Vera Farmiga, Down to the Bone Supporting Actor: William Hurt, A History of Violence Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener, Capote, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Interpreter Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Screenplay: Capote and The Squid and the Whale (tie) Foreign Language Film: Cache Documentary: Grizzly Man Production Design: 2046 Animation: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Score: Howl's Moving Castle New Generation: Terrence Howard

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