LOS ANGELES — The high-octane ''Mad Max: Fury Road'' might have driven off with the most awards on Sunday, but the Los Angeles Film Critics Association had another in mind for its top film of the year: ''Spotlight,'' the comparatively subdued drama about the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into sex abuses in the Catholic Church.
LAFCA is one of the highest-profile regional critics groups, but often strays from the mainstream in its annual awards choices. Only once in the past 20 years has the LAFCA Best Film winner gone on to win the Best Picture Oscar.
There was no clear favorite this year, and LAFCA honored a vast variety of some of the year's best films further reinforcing the narrative that the Oscar race is still fairly undefined.
''Mad Max: Fury Road,'' picked up three honors — the most for any film — including best director for George Miller, best cinematography, and best production design. But the dystopian rager, which the National Board of Review chose as their best film earlier this week, got second place to Tom McCarthy's ''Spotlight,'' which also won for its screenplay.
Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's dark animated film ''Anomalisa'' also got multiple awards, including best animated film and best music/score for composer Carter Burwell, who was also recognized for ''Carol.''
Acting awards were given similarly out of the box choices. Michael Fassbender won best actor for portraying the tech titan in ''Steve Jobs,'' while Charlotte Rampling picked up the award for best actress for her role in the marital drama ''45 Years.''
Michael Shannon won best supporting actor for playing the predatory real estate broker in the housing bubble film ''99 Homes,'' and Alicia Vikander won best supporting actress for her performance as the beguiling Artificial Intelligence creation in ''Ex Machina.''
''Amy,'' about the life of late pop star Amy Winehouse, won best documentary, and ''Son of Saul'' picked up best foreign film.
Director Ryan Coogler also won the LAFCA new generation award for ''Creed,'' a continuation of the Rocky Balboa saga.
''Carol,'' Todd Haynes' 1950s-set romance, which dominated the New York Film Critics Circle Awards this past week was practically shut out, aside from Burwell's co-win for score and a host of runner-up awards, including director and production design.
The awards-friendly ''Joy,'' ''The Revenant,'' ''The Danish Girl'' and ''Room'' were nowhere to be found in LAFCA's choices. Quentin Tarantino's ''The Hateful Eight'' was recognized only for Ennio Morricone's score as the runner-up to Burwell's compositions.
Ultimately, the awards race continues to be wide open in nearly every category. The competition will heat up this week though, when nominees are announced for both the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr