Critics seem to be championing edgier, artsier cinema even more than usual this year as non-mainstream films such as "Drive," "The Artist" and "Shame" scored nominations in multiple categories for the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards.
"The Artist" and "Hugo" led the charge with a whopping 11 nominations, but "Drive" is the big winner here, as the violent, surrealist crime thriller starring Ryan Gosling probably won't be touched by Oscar with a 10-foot pole, or so we might've thought previously. Writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn's film scored nominations in the Best Picture, Best Actor (Gosling), Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks), Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Action Movie and Best Score categories.
"The Artist," a black-and-white silent movie Oscar is looking a bit more likely to warm up to (especially if it finds a decent-sized audience), was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), Best Supporting Actress (Berenice Bejo), Best Acting Ensemble, Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Costume Design and Best Score.
Even the CCMA couldn't give a Best Picture nomination to an NC-17-rated movie about sex addiction, but "Shame" still managed to win nods for its major players, with Michael Fassbender nominated for Best Actor and Carey Mulligan nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
There are some obligatory acknowledgments of some Oscar shoo-ins such as "The Descendants" (nominated in seven categories) and "The Help" (also nominated in seven categories) but, for the most part, it's the underdog that's being put in the spotlight this year. Some completely unexpected and totally cool nominees include Nick Nolte, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his stellar performance in the criminally overlooked "Warrior," and Elle Fanning and Saorise Ronan, both nominated for Best Young Actor/Actress for their underrated work in "Super 8" and "Hanna," respectively.
Check out our entire list of nominees for the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Awards. Winners will be announced live at the awards ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012.