The apocalyptic psychological drama Melancholia was named the year’s best film on January 7 by the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC), which chose its star Kirsten Dunst as best actor (female) and Brad Pitt as best actor (male) for the baseball drama Moneyball as well as The Tree of Life.
Lars von Trier lost out on the best director award for his work on Melancholia to Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, a mystical period piece which also won the best cinematography prize. But the big win by Melancholia bolstered the offbeat film’s chances for the upcoming Academy Awards, which will announce nominees later this month.
Set against the backdrop of a country wedding, the dark film explores the strained relationship of two sisters, one a bride played by Dunst, while a strange planet threatens to collide with Earth, wiping out all traces of human existence.
Pitt, already a strong contender for the Oscars, was honoured for his roles as Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane in Moneyball as well as a strict father in The Tree of Life.
Meanwhile, the group’s awards for best supporting performances went to Albert Brooks, who played a small-time hood in the drama Drive and Jessica Chastain, who was honoured for performances in The Tree of Life, Take Shelter and The Help. Both Brooks and Chastain have been honoured by other critics groups in early awards this season.
Critics’ awards are important in helping build momentum heading toward the Academy Awards, or Oscars, which are the world’s top film awards given out on the final Sunday in February by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Several highly touted films, most notably The Artist, considered a front-runner for the Oscars, The Descendants and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo were shut out, although Scorsese was a close second in voting for best director.
(with additional information from E!Online)
Best Picture: Melancholia
Best Director: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Best Actor (male): Brad Pitt, Moneyball, The Tree of Life
Best Actor (female): Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia
Best Supporting Actor (male): Albert Brooks, Drive
Best Supporting Actor (female): Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, The Help
Best Screenplay: A Separation, Asghar Farhadi
Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Nonfiction Film: Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation, Asghar Farhadi
Best Experimental Film: Seeking the Monkey King, Ken Jacobs
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2012.