‘Melancholia’ Named Best Picture by National Society of Film Critics

Brad Pitt named best actor, Kirsten Dunst best actress, Terrence Malick best director

Last Updated: January 7, 2012 @ 3:29 PM

Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" had its first big win in critics' awards leading up to the Oscars, when it was named Best Picture of the Year by the National Society of Film Critics on Saturday.

The film's Kirsten Dunst was named best actress for her performance in the film.

Brad Pitt was named best actor for his work in “Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life.” Terrence Malick was named best director for "Tree of Life."

In the supporting categories, Albert Brooks won best supporting actor for “Drive” and Jessica Chastain best supporting actress for her work in three films: “The Tree of Life,” “Take Shelter” and “The Help.”

Until this win, the critics have largely ignored "Melancholia," whose rave reviews have been overshadowed by von Trier's antics at Cannes.

Also read: Cannes Blasts Lars von Trier for Joking About Nazis; Filmmaker Apologizes

And while the voters went for critical favorites in several categories — particularly Brooks and Chastain, "Tree of Life's" Terrence Malick for director and "A Separation" for foreign language film — they also went in a more daring direction with some selections.

Dunst has largely been overlooked in the best actress race until now, and also giving "A Separation" the screenplay award seems designed to attract the academy's attention.

The biggest overall winner in critics' awards, "The Artist," received only one mention from the NSFC, with that film's Jean Dujardin finishing third in the Best Actor race behind winner Pitt and runner-up Gary Oldman ("Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy").

"The Tree of Life" finished second and "A Separation" third in Best Picture voting.

In the documentary race, Werner Herzog took two out of the three slots, finishing first with "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and third with "Into the Abyss." Steve James' "The Interrupters" finished second.

The society is made up of 58 of the country’s most prominent movie critics. It held its 46th annual awards voting meeting at Sardi’s Restaurant in New York City.

Here's the full list of winners:

*1. Brad Pitt – 35 (Moneyball, The Tree of Life)
2. Gary Oldman – 22 (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
3. Jean Dujardin – 19 (The Artist)

*1. Kirsten Dunst – 39 (Melancholia)
2. Yun Jung-hee – 25 (Poetry)
3. Meryl Streep – 20 (The Iron Lady)

*1. Albert Brooks – 38 (Drive)
2. Christopher Plummer – 24 (Beginners)
3. Patton Oswalt – 19 (Young Adult)

*1. Jessica Chastain – 30 (The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, The Help)
2. Jeannie Berlin – 19 (Margaret)
3. Shailene Woodley – 17 (The Descendants)

*1. Melancholia – 29 (Lars von Trier)
2. The Tree of Life – 28 (Terrence Malick)
3. A Separation – 20 (Asghar Farhadi)

*1. Terrence Malick – 31 (The Tree of Life)
2. Martin Scorsese – 29 (Hugo)
3. Lars von Trier – 23 (Melancholia)

*1. Cave of Forgotten Dreams – 35 (Werner Herzog)
2. The Interrupters – 26 (Steve James)
3. Into the Abyss – 18 (Werner Herzog)

*1. A Separation – 39 (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Moneyball – 22 (Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin)
3. Midnight in Paris – 16 (Woody Allen)

*1. A Separation – 67 (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Mysteries of Lisbon – 28 (Raoul Ruiz)
3. Le Havre – 22 (Aki Kaurismäki)

*1. The Tree of Life – 76 (Emanuel Lubezki)
2. Melancholia – 41 (Manuel Alberto Claro)
3. Hugo – 33 (Robert Richardson)

Ken Jacobs, for “Seeking the Monkey King.”

1. BAMcinématek for its complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective with all titles shown on 16 mm. or 35 mm. film.
2. Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema for the restoration of the color version of George Méliès’s “A Trip to the Moon.”
3. New York’s Museum of Modern Art for its extensive retrospective of Weimar Cinema.
4. Flicker Alley for their box set “Landmarks of Early Soviet Film.”
5. Criterion Collecton for its 2-disc DVD package “The Complete Jean Vigo.”