The Oscar Warrior: Critics’ Choice Awards Confirm Frontrunners

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Last night, the Broadcast Film Critics Association announced the winners of their annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards at a gala presentation at the Hollywood Palladium, and The Artist came out on top with four awards, including the top honor of Best Picture while Michel Hazanavicius took the honor as Best Director over veterans like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. It also was honored for its score and costumes.

DreamWorks PIctures’ The Help took three honors, including Best Actress to Viola Davis and Supporting Actress to Octavia Spencer, as well as the entire cast for the Best Ensemble Cast.

George Clooney won the award for Best Actor for his role in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, although in one of the bigger surprises of the night it lost Best Adapted Screenplay to Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin’s work on adapting Moneyball.

Christopher Plummer took Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Mike Mills’ Beginners.

Though nominated in many categories, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life only received one award each, splitting the Cinematography award.

With the Golden Globes set to announce on Sundays, the Critics Choice Movie Awards have set the bar for the remainder of awards season, giving weight to winners such as Viola Davis and George Clooney to win on Oscar night, as well as giving an edge to Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer in the tougher supporting categories. Even though the Academy is made up of industry people rather than critics and journalists, seeing how the winners of these early shows handle themselves while accepting their awards can sometimes make all the difference when filling out their final Oscar ballots. Viola Davis’ emotional speech last night should put her over the top among her peers in SAG and the Academy who already appreciate her hard work, and there is clearly a lot of support for The Artist and The Help right now over all other movies.

You can see the full list of winners below and see photos and other highlights over at CriticsChoice.com.

17TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS

BEST PICTURE
The Artist

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney – “The Descendants”

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis – “The Help”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christoper Plummer – “Beginners”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Thomas Horn – “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Help

BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Midnight in Paris” – Woody Allen

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Moneyball” – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
“The Tree of Life” – Emmanuel Lubezki
“War Horse” – Janusz Kaminski

BEST ART DIRECTION
“Hugo” – Production Designer: Dante Ferretti, Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo

BEST EDITING
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” – Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Artist” – Mark Bridges

BEST MAKEUP
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

BEST SOUND
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Rango

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Drive

BEST COMEDY
Bridesmaids

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A Separation

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
George Harrison: Living in the Material World

BEST SONG
“Life’s a Happy Song” – performed by Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter/written by Bret McKenzie – The Muppets

BEST SCORE
“The Artist” – Ludovic Bource

JOEL SIEGEL AWARD
Awarded to: Sean Penn

MUSIC + FILM AWARD
Awarded to: Martin Scorsese