“The Artist” surges over the weekend – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: A flurry of activity on the Oscar landscape kept several studios busy with news (both positive and negative) driving multiple awards campaigns ahead through the crowded season.

The major story of the weekend is The New Yorker’s decision to run David Denby’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” review early, breaking Sony’s embargo by more than a week. But that story deserves its own feature, which we’ll post momentarily.

In the meantime, here are some other noteworthy things that happened over the weekend, which are bound to affect the Oscar race as we trudge ever forward.

– The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association revealed its year-end winners Monday morning, going with Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” as the best film of 2011. Martin Scorsese won best director for “Hugo,” while George Clooney (“The Descendants”) and Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”) took top acting prizes. Click here to see their full results.

– Coincidentally, the Gold Derby Oscar Experts (of which I’m proudly a member) moved “The Artist” ahead of Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” over the weekend. Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” sits in third place … for now.

– Across the pond, Paddy Considine’s tough character drama “Tyrannosaur” took home three top prizes at the British Independent Film Awards. Considine and his film earned best director and picture, while lead actress Olivia Colman nabbed Best Actress. Click here to read our exclusive interview with Colman about “Tyrannosaur” and her award-winning director.

– At the BIFAs, “Shame” star Michael Fassbender took home Best Actor honors for his role as a sex addict in Steve McQueen’s drama. The movie opened in limited release in the States and performed admirably, earning $361,000 in 10 theaters (according to BoxOfficeMojo.com).

– The European Film Awards, held over the weekend, went with Lars von Trier’s study in clinical depression, “Melancholia,” as the year’s top film. It beat out “The Artist,” “The Kid With a Bike,” “In a Better World,” “Le Havre” and “The King’s Speech.” Wait … what?

– And finally, Todd McCarthy posts what appears to be the first official “Young Adult” review, calling it a “well acted, but narrowly conceived story about a deluded author of teen novels who plots to win back her high school boyfriend.” Of Charlize Theron, he writes, “Jumping into the deep end with an essentially unlikeable character who is nonetheless compelling and sometimes great fun to watch, Theron is terrific. She makes Mavis’ arrogance and certainty of her own allure not only convincing but enjoyable. When her behavior becomes pathetic and pitiable, however, there’s no feeling of deserved comeuppance, just relief that going too far will finally provoke her to pull herself together.” He also praises Patton Oswalt. The movie opens in limited release this Friday.

For complete Oscar and film festival coverage, visit our awards alley for the latest news items, reviews and interviews all season long.

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