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Silent-film ode 'The Artist' gains honors

The New York Film Critics Circle named the silent-film ode "The Artist" the year's best film Tuesday, giving the nostalgic black-and-white movie an early boost to its already promising Academy Awards prospects, The Associated Press reports.

"The Artist," which is silent like the films to which it pays homage, also earned best director for the French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius.

The boldly old-fashioned film, which the Weinstein Company opened in limited release last week, has emerged as an unlikely front-runner in the early stages of the Oscar race. The Spirit Awards, which honor independent film, also bestowed five nominations on it Tuesday.

Brad Pitt won best actor for his performances in the baseball film "Moneyball" and Terrence Malick's cosmic drama "Tree of Life." Meryl Streep was chosen as best actress for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming "The Iron Lady."

Meanwhile, at Monday night's Gotham Independent Film Awards, "The Tree of Life" shared best-picture honors with the Ewan McGregor-Christopher Plummer flashback comedy, "Beginners."

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