By Peter Knegt | Indiewire November 29, 2011 at 1:17PM
The New York Film Critics' Circle, widely considered one of the leading organizations of film critics in the country, have announced the winners of their 2011 awards.
Voting took place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center earlier today it was said to be a heated and divisive process. In the end, Michel Hazanavicius's "The Artist" took prizes for both best picture and best director, signifcantly boosting its reputation as the film to beat come Oscar night.
Films starring Brad Pitt (as well as Brad Pitt himself) also fared well: Pitt won best actor for "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life," while "Moneyball" took best screenplay and "Life" best cinematography.
Pitt's "Tree of Life" onscreen wife Jessica Chastain took best supporting actress honors for a trio of performances including "Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help." That rightfully honors one of the most impressive debut years for an actress well, ever.
Chastain will be honored alongside veterans Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks, who took actress and supporting actor nods for "The Iron Lady" and "Drive," respectively. Their Oscar chances - along with everyone else who won - have been significantly boosted.
Full list of winners below. The group opted out of having an animated feature category this year, and also added a special award honoring recently departed director Raul Ruiz.
The 2011 New York Film Critics’ Circle Award Winners:
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for "Moneyball"
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Brad Pitt, Moneyball and The Tree of Life
Best Supporting Actress:
Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter and The Help
Best Supporting Actor:
Albert Brooks, Drive
The Tree of Life
Best Non-fiction Film:
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, directed by Werner Herzog
Best Foreign Language Film:
Best First Feature:
Margin Call, directed by J.C. Chandor