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We're off to a good start! The New York Film Critics Circle must have heard my pleas: they named Albert Brooks their Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Drive.

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After pushing back their deadline in order to be the first kids on the block to announce their awards, the organization voted the black-and-white love letter to silent cinema, The Artist, its Best Picture. The film's director, Michel Hazanavicius, also took home top honors.

Other prizes went to Brad Pitt for his work in Moneyball and Tree of Life, Meryl Streep, appearing as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life, The Help, Take Shelter, The Debt) for everything short of The Human Centipede 2, apparently the only film this year that she didn't grace.

Fortune also smiled upon Margin Call (Best First Feature), A Separation (Best Foreign Language Film), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Best Nonfiction Film), Moneyball (Best Screenplay), and The Tree of Life for Best Cinematography.

The folks over at the Independent Spirit Awards also announced their list of nominations:

Best Feature

50/50, Beginners, Drive, Take Shelter, The Artist, and The Descendants.

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Mike Mills (Beginners), Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), and Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive).

Best Screenplay

Joseph Cedar (Footnote), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Tom McCarthy (Win Win), Mike Mills (Beginners), and Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash (The Descendants).

Best First Feature

Another Earth, In the Family, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Natural Selection.

Best First Screenplay

Mike Cahill and Brit Marling (Another Earth), J.C. Chandor (Margin Call), Patrick deWitt (Terri), Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids), and Will Reiser (50/50).

John Cassavetes Award – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000

Bellflower, Circumstance, Hello Lonesome, Pariah, and The Dynamiter,

Best Female Lead

Lauren Ambrose (Think of Me), Rachael Harris (Natural Selection), Adepero Oduye (Pariah), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn).

Best Male Lead

Demián Bichir, (A Better Life), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Ryan Gosling (Drive), Woody Harrelson (Rampart), and Michael Shannon (Take Shelter).

Best Supporting Female

Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter), Anjelica Huston (50/50), Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs), Harmony Santana (Gun Hill Road), and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants).

Best Supporting Male

Albert Brooks (Drive), John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Christopher Plummer (Beginners), John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids), and Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris).

Best Cinematography

Joel Hodge (Bellflower), Benjamin Kasulke (The Off Hours), Darius Khondji (Midnight in Paris), Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist), and Jeffrey Waldron (The Dynamiter).

Best Documentary

An African Election, Bill Cunningham New York, The Interrupters, The Redemption of General Butt Naked, and We Were Here.

Best International Film

A Separation, Melancholia, Shame, The Kid With a Bike, and Tyrannosaur.

Robert Altman Award (Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)

Margin Call

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Arthur in Beginners.

The biggest surprise so far goes to the Gotham Film Critics, no doubt headed up by Commissioner Gordon, for their nod to Mike Mills' Beginners, which shared best picture honors along with Tree of Life. I understand their buying into Malick's conceit, but Beginners? A made-for-cable "my dead gay dad" picture that's only slightly elevated by Christopher Plummer's performance? This thing has more dog cutaways than Old Yeller and the pooch out-performs cuddly Ewok McGregor at every turn. Strap yourself in — it's going to be a bumpy awards season.

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The kid's Method acting in Le Quattro Volte was far more commanding.

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 3:49 p.m.

Best Male Lead

Demián Bichir, (A Better Life), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Ryan Gosling (Drive), Woody Harrelson (Rampart), and Michael Shannon (Take Shelter).

I'm sorry, this is the best male lead of the year right here;

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2726167/

His latest starring role; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leqdNP...

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Scott Marks Nov. 29, 2011 @ 4:13 p.m.

You forgot my personal favorite: Brendan Gleeson as "The Guard."

And that mutt is parvo bait compared to Arthur!

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Ghost_of_dolores_hope Nov. 30, 2011 @ 12:50 p.m.

John Cassavetes Award should be a bottle of Crown Royal and subway fare.

The best thing Robert Altman ever did was M.A.S.H. and Vincent and Theo. Everything else pass... including McCabe and Mrs. Miller, well one viewing of that won't kill ya.

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Ghost_of_dolores_hope Nov. 30, 2011 @ 12:54 p.m.

Where's your best of list? Time to roll out the hits and duds. Last year Wild Grass and Inspector Bellamy were pretty great. I know you liked Dogtooth a lot. EC R.I.P.

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