melancholia, kirsten dunst, lars von trier

Melancholia is 2011's best says National Society of Film Critics

Despite the threat of being swallowed whole by the controversy surrounding comments by its rabble-rousing director, Melancholia has been deemed the best film of 2011 by the National Society of Film Critics, potentially forecasting Oscar kudos come January 24.

Lars von Trier's offensive comments at Cannes notwithstanding, the Danish director's beautiful, elegiac look at the end of the world and a young woman's struggle with depression was deemed by the group of 58 American movie critics to be the year's best picture, and one of its stars, a luminous, brave Kirsten Dunst, was chosen as the best actress.

We don't like to say we told you so, but Melancholia was among our choices for the year's top movies and we even had a chance to sit down and talk with Dunst and co-star Kiefer Sutherland when the film screened during the Toronto International Film Festival. Basically, we had a feeling about this one.

Among the other films and artists honoured by the critics group, Terrence Malick was singled out as best director for The Tree of Life, Brad Pitt's strong performances in Moneyball and Malick's film earned him a nod for best actor and breakout star Jessica Chastain earned best supporting actress kudos for her work in The Help, Take Shelter and The Tree of Life. Albert Brooks, delightfully playing against type as an unscrupulous mob boss in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, was deemed the best supporting actor and the incomparable Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams was chosen as the best nonfiction work.

Though the National Society's picks help to sort out what films are likely to get mentioned in the same breath as Oscar, their influence when it comes to the Academy Awards is minimal at best.

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