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‘The Artist’ wins best pic at Critics Choice Awards

George Clooney, Viola Davis pick up acting kudos

The Broadcast Film Critics Assn. spread the trophy wealth around at the 17th annual Critics Choice Movie Awards, crowning “The Artist” as best picture and bestowing top thesping honors on “The Help,” “The Descendants” and “Beginners.”

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer took home lead and supporting actress honors for “The Help,” which also won the acting ensemble award. George Clooney earned another lead actor laurel for “The Descendants.” Christopher Plummer took supporting actor for “Beginners.”

Michel Hazanavicius snared the directing award for “The Artist.” “Bridesmaids” got the nod for best comedy, while “Rango” won for animated feature.

Plenty of awards-caliber faces converged on the Hollywood Palladium on Sunset Boulevard at the ceremony, including “J Edgar” star Leonardo DiCaprio, who gave “Hugo” director Martin Scorsese the second Music + Film award, which the BFCA started last year to recognize filmmakers who advance the art through the use of music. Bob Dylan, a decidedly non-awards figure, represented the highlight of the star-studded evening when he performed prior to Scorsese accepting the award.

“For me, there was music before anything. The music sent these images flooding into my imagination,” Scorsese said, recalling when he was growing up in a time before television.

Scorsese’s “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” also was recognized for docu feature. “A Separation,” Iran’s submission to Oscar’s foreign-lingo pic race, won the Critics Choice in the category.

Woody Allen won for original screenplay for “Midnight in Paris.” Aaron Sorkin, Steve Zaillian and Stan Chervin prevailed for adapted screenplay for ‘Moneyball.” “This movie was willed into existence,” Sorkin said on stage.

Best supporting actress winner Spencer was clearly taken off guard when she accepted her trophy. Plummer charmed the audience when he said the award “brought back my youth.”

The ensemble award went to the cast of “The Help,” with a large contingent from the film on hand, including Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Davis and Spencer.

Patton Oswalt made light of not winning for his supporting role in “Young Adult,” saying, “I gave David Denby a kidney for nothing, apparently.” After he concluded that “the rest of my evening is brought to you by the letter scotch,” he gave the best comedy award to “Bridesmaids.”

“Extremely Loud’s” Thomas Horn earned the film’s first awards recognition when he accepted best young actor kudos.

Clooney, who enjoyed a rousing audience reception, presented Sean Penn with the Joel Siegel Award for his ongoing humanitarian efforts in Haiti. Penn accepted via satellite.

What used to be a small affair that augmented the dozens of critics groups’ announcements throughout awards season has become a full-blown campaign stop on the way to the Academy Awards. In the last five years that the show has aired on VH1, the BFCA’s best picture choices have lined up with the Academy’s 80% of the time. The exception was last year when Critics Choice picked “The Social Network” while “The King’s Speech” took home the Oscar.

All four of last year’s Critics Choice acting winners – Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo – went on to win Oscars for the same performances.

The BFCA has about 260 members the U.S. and Canada.

Complete list of winners:

BEST PICTURE
“The Artist”

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney – “The Descendants”

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis – “The Help”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christopher 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 (TIE)
“The Tree of Life” and “War Horse”

BEST ART DIRECTION
“Hugo”

BEST EDITING
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Artist”

BEST MAKE-UP
“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” – The Muppets Performed by Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter, Written by Bret McKenzie and The Muppets

BEST SCORE
“The Artist”

JOEL SIEGEL AWARD
Sean Penn

CRITICS’ CHOICE MUSIC+FILM AWARD
Martin Scorsese

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