VANCOUVER — Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist,” the silent b&w pic about a thesp whose career begins to fade with the arrival of talkies, was chosen as best film at the 12th Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards on Monday, beating Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” and Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” which won for director.

“The Artist,” nominated in four categories, also took script honors.

Michael Fassbender won for actor for his raw portrayal of sexual addiction in “Shame.”

In a surprise upset, Elizabeth Olsen nabbed best actress for “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” beating Meryl Streep (“Iron Lady”) and Michelle Williams (“My Week With Marilyn”).

Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” took the prize for documentary and Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” was chosen as best foreign language pic.

In the Canadian competition, Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Cafe de Flore” won best pic; David Cronenberg picked up the director award for “A Dangerous Method”; Peter Stormare won for actor in “Small Town Murder Songs”; Michelle Williams nabbed actress for her work in “Take This Waltz.”

Animator Marv Newland (“Bambi vs. Godzilla”) received the 2012 Achievement Award for contribution to the British Columbia film and TV industry.