"Waltz With Bashir," a groundbreaking animated documentary about Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, won the National Society of Film Critics' 2008 best picture award Saturday.
But "Happy-Go-Lucky," Mike Leigh's tale of a die-hard optimist whose worldview is put to the test, came away with four of the 10 awards for 2008 films. It won best director and best screenplay for Leigh, best actress for Sally Hawkins and best supporting actor for Eddie Marsan.
The critics' group also named Sean Penn as best actor for his performance in the biopic "Milk," about pioneering gay politician Harvey Milk.
Hanna Schygulla won best supporting actress for "The Edge of Heaven," a German-Turkish cross-cultural story of loss and forgiveness.
Intense and inventive, "Waltz With Bashir" follows Israeli director and former soldier Ari Folman's efforts to recover his own lost memories about a massacre during the war. It moves among interviews, dreams and flashbacks, all rendered in animation.
It beat "Happy-Go-Lucky" and the Pixar animated blockbuster "WALL-E" for the best-picture nod.
While "Waltz With Bashir" is drawn from real life, the best nonfiction film honor went to "Man on Wire," about high-wire artist Philippe Petit's daring trek between the World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974.
The best cinematography award went to "Slumdog Millionaire," a rags-to-riches story shot with handheld digital cameras in the slums of Mumbai, India.
Ken Jacobs' "Razzle Dazzle," which chops up, blows up and reinvents a 1933 Thomas Edison film, won best experimental film.
Forty-nine of the society's 63 members cast their votes Saturday in a meeting at the venerable theater-district hangout Sardi's Restaurant. The group's selections often differ from those of Oscar voters.