NEW YORK — The National Society of Film Critics named Akira Kurosawa's "Ran" best picture of the year Thursday at the group's annual meeting here, continuing a trend in which critics have generally praised imports over domestic films. "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and "Prizzi's Honor" tied for second place. (Golden Globe nominations. Page 4.)
Jack Nicholson, who portrayed a hit man in the black comedy "Prizzi's Honor," easily won the best actor award. Runner-up was William Hurt for his role in "Kiss of the Spider Woman."
The best actress award was won by Vanessa Redgrave for her performance in "Wetherby." Jessica Lange came in second with her portrayal of country singer Patsy Cline in "Sweet Dreams."
John Gielgud won best supporting actor for his roles in two films this year, "Plenty" and "The Shooting Party." Runner-up was William Hickey for "Prizzi's Honor."
The award for best supporting actress went to Anjelica Huston for her portrayal of Mae Rose Prizzi in "Prizzi's Honor." Runner-up was Mieko Harada in "Ran."
"Shoah," the 9 1/2-hour documentary on the Holocaust that used no archival footage but told the story from a handful of survivors, easily won the category for best documentary. Placing second was Michael Apted's "28 Up." "Streetwise," the story of a group of Seattle street people placed third.
A surprise winner was "Lost in America," which landed best screenplay honors for co-writers Albert Brooks and Monica Johnson. Runner-up was Woody Allen for "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
The award for best cinematography went to Ran Tako Saito and Mashaharu Ueda with the collaboration of Asakazu Nakai for "Ran." Kiyoshi Hasegawa placed second for the "Makioka Sisters."
The 34 critics participating this year cast weighted votes either in person or by proxy. After the first round of ballots, proxy votes were dropped out, with only those 19 present voting.
Only three winners were chosen on the first ballot: Jack Nicholson (best actor), "Shoah" (best documentary), and Anjelica Huston (best supporting actress).
The National Society of Film Critics, which has 43 members nationwide, was founded in 1966 as an alternative to the New York Film Critics Circle. The society's membership includes critics on alternative as well as mainstream newspapers and magazines.
In year-end awards voted on last month by Los Angeles and New York film societies, Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" and John Huston's "Prizzi's Honor," were accorded best picture honors, respectively.