"Spotlight," a dramatization of The Boston Globe's investigation into the coverup of clergy sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic Church, was named the best film of 2015 by the Boston Society of Film Critics on Sunday. The film, which has been acclaimed by reviewers and audiences nationwide and is considered a front-runner for a best picture Academy Award, also won awards for best ensemble cast and best screenplay, the latter for the script by Josh Singer and director Tom McCarthy.
Otherwise, the voting members of the BSFC spread the honors for their 36th annual film awards. Winning best director was Todd Haynes for the exquisitely crafted romantic drama "Carol," which will open in Boston theaters around Christmas. ( McCarthy was the runner-up.) Charlotte Rampling, 69, was awarded best actress for her performance as a wife facing a troubled marriage in "45 Years" (opening in Boston in January) while Saoirse Ronan, 21, was a close second for her Irish immigrant in "Brooklyn."
A rare tie marked the voting for best actor, with Paul Dano as the young Brian Wilson in "Love & Mercy" sharing the award with Leonardo DiCaprio's much-abused mountain man in "The Revenant," which opens here Jan. 8. The supporting categories also reflected the year's breadth. Mark Rylance — a middle-aged British stage actor whose recent starring role in TV's "Wolf Hall" has introduced him to US audiences — was awarded best supporting actor for his circumspect Russian agent in Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies." Sylvester Stallone was the category runner-up for his seventh appearance as Rocky Balboa, in "Creed."
Kristen Stewart was named best supporting actress for her performance as Juliette Binoche's ambiguously mousy assistant in "Clouds of Sils Maria''; the awards beginning to cluster around Stewart in this film mark a critical turnaround for an actress who has been equally popular and mocked.
The Boston critics named "Amy," Asif Kapadia's heartfelt inside look at the life and career of the late soul singer Amy Winehouse, as the best documentary of 2015. Coming in second in the category — and, somewhat quixotically, also named best foreign language film — was "The Look of Silence," by Harvard-educated Joshua Oppenheimer, a tense follow-up to his Oscar-nominated 2012 film, "The Act of Killing," on the subject of the mid-1960s Indonesian genocide. As it was last year, the foreign-language prize was awarded in memory of the late Globe film critic Jay Carr, who died in 2014.
The best animated film category saw another tie, between Pixar's family-friendly "Inside Out" and the more offbeat "Anomalisa," a stop-motion fable of love and alienation from writer and co-director Charlie Kaufman ("Being John Malkovich"), working with Duke Johnson. ("Anomalisa" will be released in Boston on Jan. 8.)
Marielle Heller, director of "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," was named best new filmmaker, a prize awarded in the name of the late Boston critic David Brudnoy. The editing award, given in memory of film editor Karen Schmeer, went to Margaret Sixel for her headlong cutting of "Mad Max: Fury Road." "Carol" won the cinematography award for Ed Lachman's delicate pastel camerawork. "Love & Mercy" won the prize for best original score, honoring both Atticus Ross's composed music and the movie's re-creation of Brian Wilson's studio recordings.
In addition, several specific film revivals during 2015 were singled out for merit, and a special commendation was awarded to the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, in honor of its 20 years of the Bugs Bunny Film Festival, "a wonderful program with legitimate artistic value" in the words of the awards committee.
The full list of winners can be found at www.bostonfilmcritics.org.