Meryl Streep has won a best actress gong for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
The actress was presented with the award by The New York Film Critics Circle.
Brad Pitt won best actor for his performances in the baseball film Moneyball and Terrence Malick's cosmic drama Tree Of Life.
The Artist, a nostalgic black-and-white movie, was this year's best film.
The Artist, which is silent like the films to which it pays homage, also earned best director for the French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius.
"It's a celebration of cinema," said John Anderson, chairman of the group and critic. "It's clever and it's upbeat and all that, but it's really about the movies. Of course, that's going to strike a chord among critics."
Jessica Chastain won best supporting actress for a trio of performances in Tree Of Life, The Help and Take Shelter.
Albert Brooks earned best supporting actor for his against-type performance as a violent villain in the drama Drive.
The New York Film Critics Circle, a body of 33 New York-based critics founded in 1935, describes its awards as "a principled alternative to the Oscars, honouring aesthetic merit in a forum that is immune to commercial and political pressures".
The awards will be handed out at a ceremony on January 9.