Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist won another award earlier today from US-based film critics. The Phoenix Film Critics Society chose the French-made (mostly) silent comedy-drama as the Best Film of 2011. Hazanavicius (right) was also chosen as Best Director and as the writer of the Best Original Screenplay, while The Artist's leading man, Jean Dujardin, was the Best Actor and the film's leading lady, Bérénice Bejo, was the Best Supporting Actress. (Sometimes there's a fine line between what amounts to a leading or a supporting role.) Additionally, The Artist was cited for Best Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Costume Design. [Full list of Phoenix Film Critics winners.]
Despite The Artist's sweep, several other movies managed to come out victorious in Phoenix as well: Martha Marcy May Marlene's Elizabeth Olsen was a relatively unusual choice for Best Actress — Michelle Williams has been dominating that field for My Week with Marilyn, though Olsen has been often shortlisted elsewhere either among the year's "Breakthrough Performers" or as a contender in the Best Actress category.
Critics' fave Albert Brooks was the Best Supporting Actor for his uncharacteristic turn as a mean gangster in Nicolas Winding Refn's thriller Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. The Oscar this year will likely go to either Brooks or fellow veteran Christopher Plummer for Beginners.
Pedro Almodóvar's gender-bending The Skin I Live In, featuring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya as, respectively, a mad doctor-cum-kidnapper and his victim, was the Best Foreign Language Film. J.J. Abrams' sci-fier Super 8 was the surprising Best Ensemble winner — beating out Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, Paul Feig's Bridesmaids, and J.C. Chandor's Margin Call. The Best Adapted Screenplay mention went to Tate Taylor for the sleeper box office hit The Help, starring Viola Davis and Emma Stone. Andrew Rossi's Page One: Inside the New York Times was the Best Documentary.
Among the other winners were Gore Verbinski's Rango as Best Animated Film, Martin Scorsese's 3D adventure fantasy Hugo for Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects, and kiddie flick The Muppets as the Best Live Action Family Film. Unfortunately, the Phoenix Critics have no Best Film for Adults Only category, else Steve McQueen's NC-17-rated Shame, starring Michael Fassbender as a troubled man with a very high sex drive, might have taken home an award, too.
Also worth noting — coming from an Arizona-based film critics' group — the Phoenix Critics' Overlooked Film of the Year was Chris Weitz's A Better Life, which stars SAG Award nominee Demián Bichir as an undocumented Mexican immigrant struggling to eke out a living in Los Angeles.
Michel Hazanavicius/The Artist picture: The Weinstein Company.