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Awards Mania As 'The Artist,' 'The Tree Of Life' & 'The Descendants' Earn Top Critic Organization Honors

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist December 12, 2011 at 8:59AM

Sunday was a major day for Oscar prognosticators, as a number of critics organizations went live with their end-of-2011 honors. Some films gained support, and some lost quite a bit of steam, but for those of you who look at the whole thing like a horse race, there was a lot of movement amongst a thick group of thoroughbreds.
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The Tree Of Life The Artist The Descendants

Sunday was a major day for Oscar prognosticators, as a number of critics organizations went live with their end-of-2011 honors. Some films gained support, and some lost quite a bit of steam, but for those of you who look at the whole thing like a horse race, there was a lot of movement amongst a thick group of thoroughbreds.

The AFI released their top ten of the year, though, unlike other organizations, the AFI is dedicated solely to American productions. Nonetheless, that won't stop them from giving silent French frontrunner "The Artist" a "special award" at the ceremony, nor will it eliminate the obvious pressing need to feature a separate honor for the "Harry Potter" series, for faithfully adapting a bunch of childrens' books that made Warner Bros. billions and billions of dollars. How brave of them. Their top ten included expected contenders "The Descendants," "The Help," "Hugo," "Moneyball," "Midnight In Paris," "The Tree Of Life" and "War Horse." Though they also surprised by honoring David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," which has yet to receive a serious awards season boost, not to mention the critically-lambasted "J. Edgar" and, the big surprise, comedy blockbuster "Bridesmaids."

"The Artist"
"The Artist"

"The Artist" continued its rampage through regional awards groups by picking up the Best Picture award from the Boston Society of Film Critics. While the film also took home Best Use of Music In A Film (tied with "Drive"), the awards were otherwise divvied up quite generously, as Best Director went to Martin Scorsese for "Hugo," Best Actor for Brad Pitt in "Moneyball," Best Actress for Michelle Williams in "My Week With Marilyn" and Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress to Albert Brooks in "Drive" and Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids." What's most interesting, however, are the runners-up.

Apparently there was a small contingent of Boston critics supporting the abandoned Fox Searchlight release "Margaret." The film finished not only as a second runner-up to Best Picture (behind "Hugo") but also as a runner-up to Best Screenplay winner "Moneyball," Best Supporting Actress and Best Ensemble Cast (against winner "Carnage"). Via Twitter, the group took great pains to stress "it's worth noting that many of us couldn't see 'Margaret' because the studio did not issue screeners and there was only 1 screening." Intriguing.

The Descendants Greer Lillard

"The Artist" was also the favorite pick of the New York Film Critics Online, matching the Best Picture award given by the offline New York Film Critics. Michel Hazanavicius won Best Director, while Best Actor and Best Actress went to Michael Shannon in "Take Shelter" and Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." The NYFCO sided with Boston in awarding Best Supporting Actor and Actress to Albert Brooks and Melissa McCarthy, while honoring the cast of "Bridesmaids" with Best Ensemble Cast and going genre for Best Debut Director with Joe Cornish, representing "Attack The Block."

The west coast wasn't having any of that 'Artist' Kool-Aid, as the Los Angeles Film Critics Association picked "The Descendants" as the year's Best Picture. "The Artist" won zero awards from this group, though maybe that's because Alexander Payne has these guys in his back pocket -- they previously awarded Best Picture to Payne's last two pictures, "About Schmidt" and "Sideways." Best Actor went to Michael Fassbender for "Shame" while Best Actress went to relative unknown Yun Jung-Hee for the film "Poetry." Christopher Plummer grabbed Best Supporting Actor for "Beginners" while Jessica Chastain won Best Supporting Actress for, according to the critics' group, all eighty five movies in which she appeared this year. Best Director went to Terrence Malick, while Best Music/Score was surprisingly given to the Chemical Brothers for their work on "Hanna."

The Tree Of Life

Finally, those wacky San Francisco Critics Circle honored Malick's "The Tree Of Life" with Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography. They also broke from the pack in honoring Gary Oldman and Tilda Swinton for Best Actor and Best Actress for their work in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "We Need To Talk About Kevin," respectively. Albert Brooks surfaced again as a Best Supporting Actor winner, while Vanessa Redgrave drew the Best Supporting Actress award for her work in "Coriolanus." They also found a chance to give a "citation" for an "underappreciated independent film" in "The Mill And The Cross." What, there were no "real" awards to give this film?

Based on this weekend, we've learned there's absolutely zero consensus in the acting field, though it does seem like Brooks is a favorite for "Drive" and, somehow, sitcom star McCarthy might fart and burp her way to a Supporting Actress nod. Meanwhile, it's a three-horse race for Best Picture, with "The Artist" still leading the pack, more contemporary voters leaning towards "The Descendants" and a small, cultish following developing for "Tree Of Life." The absence of "The Help" and "War Horse" in any major categories could spell doom for those once-frontrunners.

And this awards season could provide plenty of dark horses. A very vocal community of critics have rallied around "Margaret" and there seem to be more than a few voting "Hugo" for the major contenders. Though perhaps it could be a slightly lower profile picture like "Margin Call" that ends up being the spoiler, as that film took home Best Original Screenplay from San Francisco and it was a Best New Filmmaker runner-up for JC Chandor in Boston. And could a groundswell of support boost "A Separation," which won Best Foreign Language Film from the NYFCO, was a Foreign Film runner-up in Boston and Best Screenplay winner in Los Angeles? Only time will tell. But it should also be noted that last year "The Social Network" pretty much dominated the awards from critics group only to get trumped by "The King's Speech" at the Kodak Theater.

AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR
Bridesmaids
The Descendants
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Help
Hugo
J. Edgar
Midnight In Paris
Moneyball
The Tree Of Life
War Horse

AFI TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR
Breaking Bad
Boardwalk Empire
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Game Of Thrones
The Good Wife
Homeland
Justified
Louie
Modern Family
Parks And Recreation

AFI SPECIAL AWARDS
The Artist
The Harry Potter Series

Boston Society Of Film Critic Awards

Best Picture
"The Artist"
(Runners-up: "Hugo" and "Margaret")

Best Director
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"
(Runner-up: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist")

Best Actor
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
(Runners-up: George Clooney, "The Decendants" and Michael Fassbender, "Shame")

Best Actress
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"
(Runner-up: Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady")

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks, "Drive"

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
(Runner-up: Jeannie Berlin, "Margaret")

Best Screenplay
"Moneyball"
(Runner-up: "Margaret")

Best Foreign Film
"Incendies"
(Runners-up: "A Separation" and "Poetry")

Best Cinematography
"The Tree of Life"
(Runner-up: “Hugo”)

Best Documentary
"Project Nim"
(Runner-up: “Bill Cunningham, New York)

Best Film Editing (awarded in memory of Karen Schmeer)
“The Clock”
(Runner-up: “Hugo”)

Best New Filmmaker (awarded in memory of David Brudnoy)
Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene
(Runner-up: JC Chandor, Margin Call)

Best Ensemble Cast
"Carnage
(Runner-up: "Margaret")

Best Use of Music in a Film
"The Artist" and "Drive"
(Runner-up: "The Descendants")

Best Film Series
All Roads Lead to Nowhere: The Films of Monte Hellman (HFA)
American Punk (HFA)
The Complete Henri-Georges Clouzot (HFA)
Noir Nights (ArtsEmerson)
Science on Screen (Coolidge Corner)

Best Rediscoveries
Children of Hiroshima (Masterworks by Maneto Shindo, HFA)
Days and Nights in the Forest (Sharmila Tagore and Soha Ali Khan: Two Generations in Indian Cinema, HFA)
Deep End (The Radical Visions of Jerzy Skolimowski, HFA)
The Makioka Sisters (New and Restored Prints, MFA)
The Shooting (All Roads Lead to Nowhere The Films of Monte Hellman, HFA)

Special Commendations
To the Brattle Film Foundation for ten years as a nonprofit, for its continued commitment to film preservation, and for its eclectic, and historically and culturally relevant repertory programming at the Brattle Theater.

To Ben Fowlie, Sara Archambault, and Sean Flynn, co-founder programmers of DocYard, for presenting a vibrant forum for the Boston documentary community to see important new non-fiction works and to have meaningful discussions with the filmmakers.

To The Museum of Fine Arts for purchasing, programming, and broadly promoting Christian Marclay's film installation, "The Clock," and for allowing audiences to experience this unique work of cinema in its full 24-hour runtime on select dates.

New York Film Critics Online

Best Picture
"The Artist"

Best Actor
Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter"

Best Actress
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks, "Drive"

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"

Breakthrough Performer
Jessica Chastain, "Coriolanus," "The Debt," "The Help," "Take Shelter," "Texas Killing Fields," "The Tree of Life"

Debut Director
Joe Cornish, "Attack The Block"

Ensemble Cast
"Bridesmaids"

Best Screenplay
"The Descendants"

Best Documentary
"Cave of Forgotten Dreams"

Best Foreign Language Film
"A Separation"

Best Animated Film
"The Adventures of Tintin"

Best Cinematography
"The Tree of Life"

Best Film Music or Score
"The Artist"

Los Angeles Film Critics Association

Best Picture
"The Descendants"
(Runner-up: "The Tree of Life")

Best Actor
Michael Fassbender, "Shame," "A Dangerous Method," "Jane Eyre" and "X-Men: First Class"
(Runner-up: Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter")

Best Actress
Yun Jung-Hee, "Poetry"
(Runner-up: Kirsten Dunst, "Melancholia")

Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
(Runner-up: Patton Oswalt, "Young Adult")

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, "Coriolanus," "The Debt," "The Help," "Take Shelter," "Texas Killing Fields," "The Tree of Life"
(Runner-up: Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs")

Best Director
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"
(Runner-up: Martin Scorsese, "Hugo")

Best Screenplay
"A Separation"
(Runner-up: "The Descendants")

Best Cinematography
"The Tree of Life"
(Runner-up: "City of Life and Death")

Best Documentary/Non-fiction Film
"Cave of Forgotten Dreams"
(Runner-up: "The Arbor")

Best Foreign-Language Film
"City of Life and Death"
(Runner-up: "A Separation")

Best Animated Film
"Rango"
(Runner-up: "The Adventures of Tintin")

Best Music/Score
"Hanna"
(Runner-up: "Drive")

Best Production Design
"Hugo"
(Runner-up: "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy")

New Generation Award: The creative team behind "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, Josh Mond and Elizabeth Olsen)

Douglas E. Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video:
"Spark of Being"

San Fracisco Film Critics Circle

Best Picture
“The Tree of Life”

Best Director
Terrence Malick for “The Tree of Life”

Best Original Screenplay
J.C. Chandor for “Margin Call”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Best Actor
Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Best Actress
Tilda Swinton for “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks for “Drive”

Best Supporting Actress
Vanessa Redgrave for “Coriolanus”

Best Animated Feature
“Rango”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Certified Copy”

Best Documentary
“Tabloid”

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki for “The Tree of Life”

Marlon Riggs Award for courage & vision in the Bay Area film community
National Film Preservation Foundation, in recognition of for its work in the preservation and dissemination of endangered, culturally significant films

Special Citation for under-appreciated independent cinema
“The Mill and the Cross”

This article is related to: The Tree Of Life, Terrence Malick, Margin Call, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Albert Brooks, Drive, Coriolanus, Certified Copy, The Descendants, Michael Fassbender, Christopher Plummer, Jessica Chastain, A Separation, The Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, Hugo, The Artist, Martin Scorsese, Brad Pitt, Moneyball, Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn, Sean Durkin, Carnage, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Help, J. Edgar, Midnight In Paris, War Horse, Take Shelter, The Iron Lady


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