NEW YORK (Reuters) - "United 93," a tense drama focusing on one of the hijacked planes used in the September 11 attacks, won the best picture prize on Monday in the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.
The awards, the third major film honors at the start of the Oscar season, can help narrow the field of contenders but is not always a prediction of Academy Award winners.
Jennifer Hudson won the best supporting actress award for her show-stealing role in "Dreamgirls," the movie adaptation of the famed Broadway musical. Jackie Earle Haley won best supporting actor for playing a man who exposes himself to children in "Little Children."
The best actor and best actress awards were due to be announced later on Monday.
Critics picked Peter Morgan's screenplay for "The Queen" as the best of the year for his story of how the death of Princess Diana in 1997 threw the British royal family into crisis.
Penguin cartoon and box-office hit "Happy Feet" won the best animation film category. The film has earned $137.7 million so far at the U.S. box office.
Best foreign film went to the French film "Army of Shadows" by legendary French director Jean-Pierre Melville.
The awards, voted on by a group of New York's newspaper and magazine critics, follows other major film awards in Los Angeles and New York that both awarded best picture to Clint Eastwood's war film "Letters from Iwo Jima."
Last year the New York Film Critics Circle's best film choice was the gay cowboy love story "Brokeback Mountain," which lost the Oscar to "Crash."
In 2004 it named "Sideways" as the year's best picture, while the Oscar went to the another Clint Eastwood film, "Million Dollar Baby."