The New York Film Critics Circle named American Hustle the best film of 2013, giving David O Russell's fictionalised Abscam tale an early jolt in Hollywood's awards season.
The film was also awarded best supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence and best screenplay for the script by Russell and Eric Singer.
The film, which doesn't open in theaters until December 13, is about a collection of FBI agents and con men that brought down high-profile politicians in and around New Jersey in the late 1970s.
Best actor went to Robert Redford for his near-wordless performance in the shipwreck drama All Is Lost. Cate Blanchett won best actress for her leading role as a bitter, fallen socialite in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.
12 Years of Slave filmmaker Steve McQueen took best director for his adaptation of Solomon Northup's memoir about being abducted and sold into slavery in 19th-century Louisiana.
The critics group doesn't frequently predict Academy Awards winners. Last year, it chose Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden hunt docudrama Zero Dark Thirty as best picture, though the group was in line with Oscar voters in 2011 with The Artist.
Many prognosticators consider the front-runners this year to be "12 Years a Slave" and the space adventure Gravity, but early awards are finding anything but consensus. On Monday night, the Gotham Independent Awards chose the Coen brothers' early '60s folk music tale Inside Llewyn Davis as best film.
The New York critics named Bruno Delbonnel's photography for Inside Llewyn Davis best cinematography.
Best supporting actor went to Jared Leto for his performance as an HIV-afflicted transsexual in Dallas Buyers Club.
Other awards included Blue is the Warmest Color for best foreign language picture, Stories We Tell for best non-fiction film, and The Wind Rises for best animated film.
The New York Film Critics Circle, a body of New York-based critics founded in 1935, announced their annual vote on Twitter. Awards will be handed out at a ceremony January 6.
Award-giving continues Wednesday with the National Board of Review Awards. The Los Angeles Film Critics make their picks on Sunday. Golden Globe nominations will be announced December 12.