The Los Angeles Film Critics Association split between the space odyssey Gravity and the futuristic romance Her, lending no more certainty to an awards season that's so far been full of contenders.
The two films shared best picture in the awards announced Sunday by the L.A. critics, but Gravity was the top award-winner. The innovatively made, lost-in-space drama won for best director (Alfonso Cuaron), best editing (Cuaron and Mark Sanger) and best cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki).
Her, which is about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer operating system (voiced by Scarlet Johansson), also won for K.K. Barrett's sleek, near-future production design. But the critics otherwise spread its honors around.
Dual winners were the theme. Best actress was shared by Cate Blanchett for her fallen socialite in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, and Adele Exarchopoulos for the lesbian coming-of-age tale "Blue Is the Warmest Color." (The later film also won for best foreign language film.)
Best supporting actor was also a tie, with the group jointly honoring Jared Leto's performance as an HIV-positive transsexual in "Dallas Buyers Club" and, more surprisingly, James Franco's performance as the cornrowed gangster Alien in Spring Breakers.
Best actor went to Bruce Dern for his performance in Alexander Payne's father-son road trip Nebraska.
Early movie awards can help sort out the Academy Awards race, but they've been particularly varied this year. Last week, the New York Film Critics Circle named David O. Russell's Abscam fictionalization American Hustle best film. The National Board of Review picked Her. The Gotham Awards elected the Coen brothers' folk tale Inside Llewyn Davis best film.
On Sunday, both the New York Film Critics Online and the Boston Film Critics named the slavery epic 12 Years a Slave best picture. The LA critics also voiced its strong support for the film naming Lupita Nyong'o best supporting actress, and giving a "special citation" to the film's creative team.
Other awards included: Before Midnight for best screenplay, Stories We Tell for best documentary, and Ernest & Celestine for best animated film.
Last year, the LA critics chose as best picture Michael Haneke's aging drama Amour, which went on to win the Oscar for best foreign language film. The association, a group of several dozen film critics, will hand out the awards in a Jan. 11 ceremony in Los Angeles.
Hollywood's awards season continues Wednesday with the Screen Actors Guild nominations, followed Thursday by the Golden Globe nominations.