A tale of forbidden love in the saddle beat out Steven Spielberg's drama of realpolitik revenge yesterday, as the Boston Society of Film Critics voted Ang Lee's ''Brokeback Mountain" best film of 2005 and Lee best director. Spielberg's ''Munich" was edged out in both categories. ''Brokeback" opens in Boston on Friday and ''Munich" on Dec. 23.
Otherwise, there was no clear consensus in what has largely been considered a diffuse year at the movies. Philip Seymour Hoffman won best actor from the Boston critics for his portrayal of Truman Capote in ''Capote," with Heath Ledger's performance as one of the gay cowboys in ''Brokeback" coming in second in the balloting. ''Capote" also won best screenplay for Dan Futterman's script, while Catherine Keener won best supporting actress for her work in ''Capote," ''The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and ''The Ballad of Jack and Rose."
Reese Witherspoon was voted best actress for her role as country singer June Carter in the Johnny Cash biopic ''Walk the Line," with Keira Knightley coming in second for ''Pride and Prejudice." That film's director, Joe Wright, was honored with the David Brudnoy New Filmmaker Award, so named last year in honor of the late radio host and film critic. This year's awards were dedicated to the memory of Robin Dougherty, the former Boston Phoenix film critic who died of cancer this summer.
In the best supporting actor category, Paul Giamatti won for his portrayal of a fight manager in ''Cinderella Man," a film many feel was unfairly overlooked at the box office earlier this year.
In a surprising turn of events, the martial arts comedy ''Kung Fu Hustle" was voted best foreign language film, with another Hong Kong film, Wong Kar-Wai's ''2046," coming in second. Robert Elswit's black-and-white photography for ''Good Night, and Good Luck" won best cinematography. The Stephen Gaghan oil drama ''Syriana" was voted best ensemble cast in a year with many contenders.
Best documentary went to ''Murderball," a film about the members of the US Paralympic rugby team directed by Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro. Werner Herzog's ''Grizzly Man" was the runner-up.
In the category of ''best discoveries/rediscoveries," the society named five screenings at revival houses and arts institutions: ''Welcome Danger" at the Brattle, the Alloy Orchestra presentation of ''Blackmail" at the Somerville Theatre, and ''Outcast of the Islands," ''The Little Fugitive," and ''Seven Men From Now," all at the Harvard Film Archive.
Special commendations went to the Leff Foundation and to Mikes Bowes of the nonprofit filmmakers' support group Central Productions.
Established in 1981, the society is made up of print and broadcast reviewers from Boston area dailies, weeklies, and TV outlets.