<p>Jean Dujardin and B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo in &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Analysis: 'The Artist' dances away with New York Film Critics' Circle awards

'Moneyball' and Meryl Streep get big boosts

Proving being first has its disadvantages, the New York Film Critic's Circle met Monday morning to decide on their year end awards.  Unfortunately, because of the organization's need to beat everyone else to the party (don't get me started), they were unable to screen Stephen Daldry's highly anticipated "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" for consideration.  So, should there be an asterisk next to this year's selections?  Possibly, but judging by the love for best picture winner "The Artist," probably not.

After all the buzz for "War Horse" and "The Descendants'" superb reviews and box office over the Thanksgiving frame, Oscar player "The Artist" needed a nice boost to keep in step on the publicity front and boy did they get it.  Winning the NYFCC award for best feature film and best director for Michel Hazanavicius along with the film's surprising five Independent Spirit Awards, including best feature film, mean The Weinstein Company has a lot to brag about.  Well, at least until Thursday when the National Board of Review reveals their top picture which many assume will be "The Artist" anyway.  It has certainly left other studios reassessing their campaigns for the weeks ahead.

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<p>Ryan Gosling of &quot;Drive&quot;</p>
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Ryan Gosling of "Drive"

Credit: Film District

'Descendants,' 'Drive' and 'Take Shelter' lead 2012 Independent Spirit Awards Nominees

'The Artist' is a surprise best feature film nominee

Film Independent announced the nominees for the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards this morning and "Take Shelter" and "The Artist" received the most nominations with five each. "The Descendants," "Drive" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" received four respectively.  Surprising nominations came for internationally financed "The Artist" in the best feature film category and George Clooney and Kirsten Dunst not receiving nominations in the lead actor categories. 

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<p>Patton Oswalt, Charlize Theron and Jason Reitman walk the red carpet to promote &quot;Young Adult&quot; at the 2011 Gotham Awards.</p>

Patton Oswalt, Charlize Theron and Jason Reitman walk the red carpet to promote "Young Adult" at the 2011 Gotham Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

10 things we learned at the 2011 Gotham Awards

'Beginners' shock, Charlize Theron's push, rude New Yorkers and more

Having attended the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Britannia Awards, the Critic's Choice Awards and, god help me, the Hollywood Film Awards (just once I say, just once!), it felt like a big adventure crossing the country to the Spirit's little New York, um, sister, the Gotham Awards.  

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2011 Gotham Awards winners and nominees
Credit: Focus Features

2011 Gotham Awards winners and nominees

'Beginners' and 'Tree of Life' tie for the top prize

The 21st Annual Gotham Awards were handed out in New York City Monday night.  The winners were as follows.

Look for a complete on the scene report later tonight on HitFix.  Or, follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter for updates directly from the event.

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<p>Matt Damon in a very Cameron Crowe like moment from &quot;We Bought A Zoo.&quot;</p>

Matt Damon in a very Cameron Crowe like moment from "We Bought A Zoo."

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Cameron Crowe gets out of movie jail with charming and commercial 'We Bought A Zoo'

20th Century Fox sneaks a month early to create buzz

Cameron Crowe's Get Out of Jail card just hit theaters.  Well, it hit your multiplex for a sneak peek on Saturday night.  "We Bought A Zoo" is Crowe's first movie since the disastrous "Elizabethtown" in 2005.  That romance Crowe's second critical failure after "Vanilla Sky," but the former thriller still had enough Tom Cruise star power to turn a profit. Not only did "Elizabethtown" cool Crowe's previously lauded career, but it was one of the reasons Cruise and his then producing partner, Paula Wagner, found themselves out of a production deal at Paramount.  Now, six years later, Crowe returns with "Zoo," a very commercial dramedy with some of the filmmaker's trademark touches thrown in for good measure.

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<p>Albert&nbsp;(Jeremy Irvine) takes Joey for a ride during a happy moment in Steven Spielberg's &quot;War Horse.&quot;</p>

Albert (Jeremy Irvine) takes Joey for a ride during a happy moment in Steven Spielberg's "War Horse."

Credit: Dreamworks Studios

'War Horse' makes it a three-horse race for best picture

Will Spielberg's epic sprinted past the competition?

Steven Spielberg hasn't been a major player in the Oscar game since "Munich" was nominated for best picture and he received a best director nod in 2006.  In the five year since, Spielberg re-teamed with his old buddy George Lucas on another "Indiana Jones" adventure (one best forgotten) and spent a good deal of effort giving DreamWorks Studios new life at the Walt Disney Company after an unsuccessful alliance with Paramount.  Spielberg's first directorial effort for the new DreamWorks is "War Horse" and ever since the rights to Michael Morpurgo's 1982 novel were acquired the project had the Oscar bait stamp all over it.  The film has been finished since late summer when selected long lead press screened it. Over the past few weeks more media found themselves partaking the approximately 2 hour and 20 min epic as well as some random film screening groups that Spielberg personally attended. On Thanksgiving the floodgates opened and guild, Academy and media members all began to bask in the legendary filmmaker's endeavor.  And, surprise, awards season took a turn.

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<p>Jean Dujardin and B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo discuss &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo discuss "The Artist."

Meet the celebrated stars of 'The Artist': In sound and living color

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo

If you're in the vicinity of Los Angeles or New York for the holidays you've already had a chance to catch such awards season players as "My Week with Marilyn," "Hugo," "The Descendants" and maybe even "Melancholia" if you didn't watch it on VOD already.  Today, one of the frontrunners in the race finally hits screens on this side of the Atlantic, "The Artist."

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<p>The U.S. poster for Angelina Jolie's directorial debut &quot;In the Land of Blood and Honey.&quot;</p>

The U.S. poster for Angelina Jolie's directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey."

Credit: FilmDistrict

Angelina Jolie's 'In the Land of Blood and Honey' gets a bloody romantic poster

Jolie's directorial debut arrives next month

Is "In the Land of Blood and Honey" really an awards player?  That remains to be seen, but   FilmDistrict is providing Angelina Jolie's directorial debut with a prestige release to make Madonna (aka "W.E" helmer) envy. The mini-major already made noise by deciding to release the drama in the native Bosnian language of the film's characters and setting (although it's know officially called Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (Bosanski/Hrvatski/Srpski)).  Joust in case, Jolie shot each scene in English, but the studio and Jolie felt it was better served in  Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian.  The studio has also released a trailer which shows that Jolie may have more cinematic talent than many would have believed (she also has sole credit on the picture's screenplay).  Now, a striking and iconic poster for "Blood" has hit the web and it should absolutely draw moviegoers attention.  And, considering the lack of star power in front of the screen, that's a very good thing.

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<p>Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in &quot;My Week with Marilyn.&quot;</p>

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Speed dating with Michelle Williams over 'My Week with Marilyn'

Short and very sweet

Michelle Williams doesn't have much time.  I mean, she really doesn't have much time. The two-time Academy Award nominated actress landed in Los Angeles just a few hours ago and now has only one hour, yes, just one hour to do interviews with a slew of waiting reporters at the always bustling Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.  it won't be long before Williams has to walk the red carpet at the premiere of "My Week with Marilyn" at AFI Fest that evening and when her people say she only has an hour they aren't kidding.  My specific warning before sitting down with the best actress contender: Just two questions with the always charming Ms. Williams.  Eke. I better make them good.  

Needless to say, it was a much different story a year ago when I sat down for a much longer and more intimate chat regarding her acclaimed work in "Blue Valentine." But with Williams still busy filming Sam Raimi's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" with James Franco, the luxury of an in-depth conversation about her turn portraying the iconic Marilyn Monroe isn't going to happen (for anyone). When I first sat down across from a beaming Williams, she asked me, "Are you ready to speed date?"  I'm not sure if I passed the test, but it was a cheerful 2 1/2 minutes I likely won't forget.

To find out Williams thoughts about playing one of her childhood icons and the agony of "over thinking" a role watch the interview embedded above.  Oh, and note for all you Hollywood producers and directors out there who are likely to be blown away by Ms. Williams singing talents in "Marilyn," she'd love to appear in a movie musical.  Really.

For more on Williams transformation as Monroe, check out an intriguing look at the actress getting into character on set and during a special photo shoot for photographer Brigitte Lacombe.

"My Week with Marilyn" is now playing in limited release across the country.

For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.

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<p>Michael Fassbender as Sigmund Freud and Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein in David Cronenberg's &quot;A Dangerous Method.&quot;</p>

Michael Fassbender as Sigmund Freud and Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

Credit: Sony Classics

Keira Knightley brings the hysterical to 'A Dangerous Method' (and she isn't being funny people)

A Q&A with the former Oscar nominee

TORONTO - In the midst of a busy Toronto Film Festival, I found myself racing to the Fairmont Royal Oak Hotel.  One particular actress was in town for only a few more hours and this was a rare opportunity for a sit down one on one with her.  The star in question was none other than Keira Knightley, the former "Pirates of the Caribbean" star who has spent the last four years running from blockbusters and, instead, gaining respect with stellar performances in films such as "Atonement," the underrated "The Edge of Love," "Never Let Me Go," the also underrated "Last Night" and "The Duchess."  This fall she's delivered a career best turn in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

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