Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: The New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) has nudged Mystic River aside as Best Picture in favor of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Variety is reporting this afternoon.

Other films being honored include Lost in Translation, American Splendor and The Secret Lives of Dentists.

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After Mystic River's showing with the National Board of Review (as Best Picture) and its pick-up of the Boston Critics over the weekend, the pic seemed a sure contender with the NYFCC, but failed to show up in any major category.

While Oscar usually frowns on fantasy pics, perhaps this will be the year that the category will take the prize. Whatever the case, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King seems destined to make an impression this award season and should ensure that an already hotly contested Academy contest will be even more interesting.