Lars Von Trier's movie Melancholia has been named the best film of 2011 by the US National Society of Film Critics.
The film portrays two sisters facing up to the end of the world. Its star Kirsten Dunst was named best actress by the 58-strong panel of critics.
Von Trier, who was expelled from the Cannes Film Festival in May after saying he sympathised with Hitler, missed out on the best director prize.
That award was won by Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life.
Brad Pitt won the best actor accolade for his role in baseball drama Moneyball.
Critics' awards are seen as key steps towards the Oscars. Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have one more week to vote for Oscar nominees, with the nominations announced on 24 January.
But neither Melancholia nor Dunst have been nominated for the Golden Globes, seen as Hollywood's second most prestigious prizes, before they are handed out on 15 January.