Sean Penn's Into the Wild (pictured) took Best Picture honors, beating out Great World of Sound, I'm Not There, Margot at the Wedding, and The Namesake. Michael Moore's healthcare exposé Sicko won Best Documentary, up against The Devil Came on Horseback, Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains, My Kid Could Paint That, and Taxi to the Dark Side.
Since this is the first awards event of the season, a victory here could be seen as a good sign for the Golden Globes and Oscars. Sicko was probably a shoo-in for an Oscar nod anyway, but Into the Wild definitely needed the boost, since the field of excellent films this year is especially crowded.
The Best Ensemble Cast category had some heavyweights -- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, The Last Winter, Margot at the Wedding, The Savages, and Talk to Me -- and apparently the juries couldn't choose, because Before the Devil and Talk to Me shared the award.
Craig Zobel was named Breakthrough Director for his music-biz satire Great World of Sound, which had more nominations (three) than any other film. Juno's Ellen Page took the Breakthrough Actor award.
The sixth category is my personal favorite: Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, honoring a flick that's been well-received at festivals but that hasn't gotten distribution yet. The winner was Frownland, Ronald Bronstein's dyspeptic do-it-yourself quasi-comedy about a neurotic, stammering mess of a man. I saw it at South By Southwest and loathed every frame of it; others have adored it. It's that kind of movie.
The Hollywood Reporter has more details on the ceremony itself, which also included tributes to Roger Ebert, director Mira Nair, actor Javier Bardem, production designer Mark Friedberg, IFC Center founder Jonathan Sehring, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The ceremony will be broadcast on NYC TV and The Documentary Channel on Dec. 4 and 8.