Spirit Award Nominations And New York Critics Winners Announced

Brad Pitt

And with that, the Oscar race is on!

Tuesday (Nov 29) morning was a busy one for the films hoping to vie for Academy Awards in February. The New York Film Critics Circle listed its winners and the Film Independent Spirits announced its nominations simultaneously in a couple hours of dizzying Oscar buzz.

Both awards are usually the earliest indication of which films could lead the pack when it comes time to announce the Academy Award nominees in January. The NYFCC were so early this year, in fact, that they had to delay their awards until after screening David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," to which they awarded nothing.

Perhaps the biggest story coming out of both announcements was the emergence of Michael Hazanavicius's ode to golden-era silent film, "The Artist," as perhaps an early front-runner for Best Picture. The film had earned raves during the festival circuit a few months ago, but faced minor backlash during it's limited release last week. Now with a Best Picture and Best Director win from the NYFCC, "The Artist" is the film to beat.

A welcome surprise came with Brad Pitt's NYFCC Best Actor win for both "Moneyball" and "Tree of Life." Meryl Streep earned the first of her expected many wins for "The Iron Lady."

While the Spirit Awards focus on smaller films, the nominations cemented "Beginners" status as the indie charmer hit of the year. The movie, which stars Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, surprised the night before when it won Best Ensemble and shared Best Picture with "Tree of Life" at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Check out both the winners from the New York Film Critics Circle and Spirit Award nominations below.

Spirit Award Nominations

Best Feature

50/50

Beginners

Drive

Take Shelter

The Artist

The Descendants

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Mike Mills, Beginners

Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive

Best Screenplay

Joseph Cedar, Footnote

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Tom McCarthy, Win Win

Mike Mills, Beginners

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, The Descendants

Best First Feature

Another Earth

In the Family

Margin Call

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Natural Selection Director

Best First Screenplay

Mike Cahill, Brit Marling, Another Earth

J.C. Chandor, Margin Call

Patrick deWitt, Terri

Phil Johnston, Cedar Rapids

Will Reiser, 50/50

John Cassavetes Award – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000

Bellflower

Circumstance

Hello Lonesome

Pariah

The Dynamiter

Best Female Lead

Lauren Ambrose, Think of Me

Rachael Harris, Natural Selection

Adepero Oduye, Pariah

Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene

Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Best Male Lead

Demián Bichir, A Better Life

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Ryan Gosling, Drive

Woody Harrelson, Rampart

Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Best Supporting Female

Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter

Anjelica Huston, 50/50

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Harmony Santana, Gun Hill Road

Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Best Supporting Male

Albert Brooks, Drive

John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

John C. Reilly, Cedar Rapids

Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris

Best Cinematography

Joel Hodge, Bellflower

Benjamin Kasulke, The Off Hours

Darius Khondji, Midnight in Paris

Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist

Jeffrey Waldron, The Dynamiter

Best Documentary

An African Election

Bill Cunningham New York

The Interrupters

The Redemption of General Butt Naked

We Were Here

Best International Film

A Separation

Melancholia

Shame

The Kid With a Bike

Tyrannosaur

New York Film Critics Circle Winners

Best First Feature: "Margin Call"

Best Nonfiction Film: "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"

Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain for "Tree of Life," "The Help" and "Take Shelter"

Best Actress: Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady"

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks for "Drive"

Best Actor: Brad Pitt for "Moneyball," and "Tree of Life"

Best Foreign Language Film: "A Separation"

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist"

Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for "Moneyball"

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for "Tree of Life"

2011 Special Award to be given posthumously to filmmaker Raoul Ruiz

Best Picture: "The Artist"

Tell us what you think of the awards news in the comments section and on Twitter!