Yolande Moreau, a veteran actress from Belgium, was named best actress for her title role in "Seraphine" as a famous painter who hid from French society by becoming a cleaning woman in post-World War I France.
A more familiar name, Jeff Bridges, won the best actor award for his portrayal of as an alcoholic, emotionally-crippled country-western singer in "Crazy Heart."
Mo'nique was named best supporting actress for her portrayal of the mother in "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' By Sapphire."
The best supporting actor award went to Christoph Waltz, who played SS Col. Hans Landa in "Inglourious Basterds."
"Summer Hours" was named best foreign language film.
A key difference between the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and other awards is that it announces the runner-up in all categories except for its new generation honors.
"It's sort of a prism into our thinking but also a way to spotlight some other great films that have tremendous support in the group, but don't ultimately win a prize," association President Brent Simon, a critic for Screen International, a movie industry trade magazine, told City News Service.
"Up in the Air," which stars George Clooney as a frequently flying corporate downsizer, was the best picture runner-up, while co-star Anna Kendrick was the runner-up for best supporting actress.
Michael Haneke was runner-up best director for "The White Ribbon," which was also the runner-up for best foreign language film.
Runner-up best actor was Colin Firth in "A Single Man." Carey Mulligan was the runner-up for best actress in "An Education" for her portrayal of a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London
Peter Capaldi from the political satire "In the Loop" was the best supporting actor runner-up.
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association's best picture winner has failed to win the best picture Oscar for 15 consecutive years. Neither last year's best picture winner, the animated film "Wall-E," nor the runner-up, "The Dark Knight," received best picture Oscar nominations.
The 51-member group's best picture choice has won the best picture Oscar seven times in the 34 years it has been presented, with the 1993 Holocaust drama "Schindler's List," the most recent double winner.
Other prizes awarded were:
-- New Generation Award: Neill Blomkemp, "District 9."
-- Animated Film: "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Runner-up: "Up."
-- Music/Score: T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton,"Crazy Heart." Runner- up: Alexandre Desplat,"Fantastic Mr. Fox."
-- Production Design: Philip Ivey,"District 9." Runners-up: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg,"Avatar."
-- Cinematography: Christian Berger, "The White Ribbon." Runner-up: Barry Ackroyd, "The Hurt Locker."
-- Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner,"Up in the Air." Runners-up: Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche, "In the Loop."
-- Documentary or nonfiction film: "The Beaches of Agnes" and "The Cove," tie.
-- Douglas E. Edwards Independent/Experimental Film or Video: C.W. Winter and Anders Edstrom,"The Anchorage."