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‘The Artist’ Wins Best Film & Best Director, While ‘The Tree Of Life’ Wins 3 From The New York Film Critics Circle

'The Artist' Wins Best Film & Best Director, While 'The Tree Of Life' Wins 3 From The New York Film Critics Circle

You know what’s a really good idea? Drawing out your award winners on Twitter all day. In what seems like the final act in a disastrous public relations year for the New York Film Critics Circle, they made the ridiculous decision to tweet their winners, one-by-one, as they vote today, turning the simple act of compiling a press release into a drawn-out social media exercise by people who clearly don’t understand how to use it (case in point: Roger Friedman tweeted out the Best Director win before NYFCC could). Couple that with new president John Anderson‘s embarrassing whining that Warner Bros. wouldn’t screen “Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close” in order to meet their arbitrary and way too early voting date (so they can be first out, and consequently first forgotten), which they had to move anyway for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” and you have a 2011 the members are likely glad is over. Politics and infighting aside, the group, having got their Fincher on last night, finally met to pick their winners, and while their standing has certainly been diminished by recent controversies (there goes our invite), the results are always a strong barometer for Oscar.

It was just yesterday that we were pontificating about what a crowded field of nostalgia-styled contenders would mean in this year’s awards race — at least for the NYFCC, they’ve taken the bait swung more toward “old-fashioned” films despite some of the edgier works out there. And you can start right with Best Film and Best Director, with the honors going to “The Artist” and the film’s director, Michel Hazanavicius. Combined with the Indie Spirt nominations it received this morning as well, it looks like Oscar is definitely calling in a big way for the film. And after being shut out from the Kodak Theater two years running, the NYFCC showed Werner Herzog some love, giving his sleepy documentary (and unlikely arthouse hit) “The Cave Of Forgotten Dreams” Best Non-Fiction Film honors.

One needs to look no further than the acting categories to see that nostalgia trend continue, with the legendary Meryl Streep once again winning, this time for the biopic “The Iron Lady” (not for Luc Besson‘s “The Lady” as the Twitter newbs first announced). Terrence Malick‘s “The Tree Of Life” (which itself is about memory and pining for times past) got two acting wins for leads Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain (sharing the prizes with feel good sports drama “Moneyball” and “Take Shelter” respectively). However, in a much deserved nod of recognition, and a step outside the pattern, Albert Brooks earned Best Supporting Actor for his colorfully icy turn in “Drive.”

In the tech categories, the guild once again stayed the course with the nostalgia and feel good fare. Emmanuel Lubezki‘s honey-hued lensing for “The Tree Of Life” earned him Best Cinematography (and frankly, if the movie has any big shot at Oscar this year, it’ll be in this category — his work is great). Meanwhile, veteran writers Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin won for penning “Moneyball,” and they will also likely factor in a big way in the coming weeks and months.

Also bearing well for its Oscar potential, Asghar Farhadi‘s hotly buzzed “A Separation” took home Best Foreign Film honors. Meanwhile, the indie “Margin Call” continues to build steam, taking the Best First Feature win for director J.C. Chandor.

All in all, quite a gear change from 2010, which saw the NYFCC hip themselves to “The Social Network,” “The Kids Are All Right” and “Black Swan.” If their votes in 2011 are any indication of the way the wind is blowing, it’s going to be a very different year at the Kodak Theater.

Best Film: “The Artist”
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Best Actor: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball” and “The Tree Of Life”
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, “Drive”
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, “Take Shelter” and “The Tree of Life”
Best Screenplay: Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, “Moneyball”
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “The Tree Of Life”
Best Foreign Language Film: “A Separation” directed by Asghar Farhadi
Best Non-Fiction Film: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” directed by Werner Herzog
Best First Film: “Margin Call” directed by J.C. Chandor

Special Award will be given posthumously to filmmaker Raoul Ruiz.

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