The Boston Society of Film Critics, the first critics' group to weigh in on the 2003 movie awards race, gave its top honor to the Boston-set drama ''Mystic River,'' but the movie that earned the most citations was ''Lost in Translation.'' The group's 23rd annual awards list, released on Sunday, may help ''Lost'' and other indie-film winners gain momentum in the Oscar race and add to the already-gathering steam behind Warner Bros.' ''Mystic.''
''Mystic,'' already named Best Picture by the movie buffs who make up the National Board of Review, picked up two awards from the Boston group, Best Picture and Best Ensemble Cast, and star Sean Penn was the runner-up in the Best Actor category. That award went to ''Lost'''s Bill Murray, whose costar Scarlett Johansson was named Best Actress. ''Lost'' director Sofia Coppola, who also wrote the comedy-drama about a bored movie actor who befriends a lonely young married woman in Tokyo, won Best Director Honors. Both ''Mystic'' and ''Lost'' also made the American Film Institute's annual top 10 list, also released on Sunday.
Another big BSFC winner, in a strong year for documentaries, was ''Capturing the Friedmans,'' the story of a family torn apart by a pedophilia case. It earned Best Documentary and Best New Filmmaker for director Andrew Jarecki. Another documentary, ''Winged Migration,'' earned Best Cinematography for its large camera crew that captured flocks of birds in flight.
Supporting Acting honors went to Peter Sarsgaard for his role as New Republic magazine editor Charles Lane in ''Shattered Glass,'' and to Patricia Clarkson for her roles in two indie comedies, ''The Station Agent'' and ''Pieces of April.'' ''American Splendor'' writer-directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini won Best Screenplay for their adaptation of Harvey Pekar's autobiographical comic series, and the French animated feature ''The Triplets of Belleville'' won Best Foreign Language Film.
The BSFC (whose voting members include this reporter) may see increased influence this year, since it's the first critics group out of the gate. (Due later this week are the votes from the New York and Los Angeles critics, as well as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe nominations.) Last year, the Boston critics were the first awards group to honor ''The Pianist,'' citing it for Best Picture, Best Director (Roman Polanski), and Best Actor (Adrien Brody). The film went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and won Oscars for Polanski and Brody.