‘Moonlight’ beats ‘La La Land’ in L.A. Film Critics awards

Ashton Sanders in a scene from “Moonlight.” (David Bornfriend / AP)

“Moonlight” won best picture honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. on Sunday, one of four awards — including one for director for Barry Jenkins — that give the independent film some unexpected momentum as awards season kicks into high gear.

The Los Angeles critics also gave first-place or runner-up honors in various categories to “Manchester by the Sea,” “La La Land” and “OJ: Made in America.”

But the day belonged to “Moonlight,” the intimate drama depicting three periods in the life of a young gay black man set in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. Its wins included Mahershala Ali in the supporting actor category and James Laxton for cinematography.

On Thursday the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. gave “Moonlight” 10 nominations, including picture and director, for its Critics Choice Awards. The film also has picked up six nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Awards, including feature, director, screenplay, cinematography, editing and the Robert Altman Award, which honors the director, casting director Yesi Ramirez and the acting ensemble.

Last year the Los Angeles critics selected “Spotlight” as its best picture and screenplay, and the film went on to win Academy Awards in those categories.

L.A. critics also showed much enthusiasm for…