Critics vote Pitt best actor; Dunst best actress

Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia” took best picture and best actress honors at Saturday’s National Society of Film Critics ceremony at Sardi’s Restaurant in New York City, demonstrating the org’s reputation for going against the grain during the end-of-year critics’ kudos timeframe.

Brad Pitt, considered a leading contender for an Oscar nomination, earned a lead actor nod for his roles in “Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life,” while Kirsten Dunst was named best actress for “Melancholia.” Albert Brooks earned supporting honors for “Drive,” adding to a robust slate of critics wins for the actor this season,” while Jessica Chastain was named best supporting actress for her roles in “The Help,” “The Tree of Life” and “Take Shelter.”

Iranian drama “A Separation” earned two awards from the NSFC: best screenplay and best foreign-language film.

Each year, the group included the number of critics who voted for each film in each category in its announcement, which reveals that “Melancholia” took top honors by only one vote. The film earned 29 votes, while “The Tree of Life” had 28 and “A Separation” had 20. The final results were also close in the director category, with Malick winning over “Hugo” director Martin Scorsese, 31 votes to 29.

NSFC, which is composed of 58 movie critics from around the country, chose the winners for its 46th annual awards using a weighted ballot system, and all of the winners will receive scrolls to commemorate their honors.

The full list of winners follows:

Best Actor: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life”

Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst, “Melancholia”

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, “Drive”

Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, “The Tree of Life,” “Take Shelter,” “The Help”

Best Picture: “Melancholia”

Best Director: Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”

Best Nonfiction: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”

Best Screenplay: “A Separation”

Best Foreign-Language Film: “A Separation”

Best Cinematography: “The Tree of Life”

Best Experimental: “Seeking the Monkey King”

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