‘The Artist’ Is the First Big Winner of the 2011 Movie Awards Season

It’s the most ambivalent time of the year! No, not the holiday season — the awards season, which is now officially underway. The New York Film Critics Circle has just finished announcing this year’s winners via Twitter, and its picks have certainly raised our eyebrows. Of course, it’s a surprise to no one that critics loved Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, which took home two acting awards for its prolific principals, Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt, and an incredibly well-deserved cinematography prize. But it was French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius’ much-loved, just-released silent-era throwback The Artist that earned both their Best Picture and Best Director prizes. Also notable: Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, which we loved, didn’t win anything. Check out the rest of the critics’ favorites after the jump, and feel free to speculate wildly on what this means for the Oscars, Golden Globes, and Independent Spirits (which announced their nominees today) in the comments.

New York Film Critics Circle Awards 2011:

Best First Feature: Margin Call
Best Nonfiction Film: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, for Tree of Life, The Help, and Take Shelter
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks for Drive
Best Actress: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady
Best Actor: Brad Pitt for Moneyball and Tree of Life
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for Moneyball
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for Tree of Life
Special Award: Raoul Ruiz
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
Best Picture: The Artist