Bin Laden film wins awards before release

Awards season got into full swing on Monday as the New York Film Critics Circle announced their annual awards - an early pre-cursor to the Academy Awards - and did so via Twitter.

Through 12 tweets on the freshly created @NYFCC2012 account, the well-regarded association of 35 New York-based critics founded in 1935 named Kathryn Bigelow's docudrama surrounding the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, the best film of 2012, despite the fact that the film hasn't even been released yet.

The movie, which stars Australian brothers Joel and Nash Edgerton as Navy SEAL team members on the hunt for the infamous terrorist leader, won't hit Amercian screens until December 19 after its release date was pushed back following a controversy regarding the film that swelled during the U.S. election, when Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were forced to deny claims that they received classified material for their research. Zero Dark Thirty will open in Australia on 31 January next year.

This didn't prevent the film winning two of the top honours though as exclusive screenings are held for NYFCC members prior to theatrical release in order to qualify the film for awards consideration, a situation that caused controversy last year when David Fincher reacted explosively to an advance review for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo published by The New Yorker prior to the embargo date for coverage.

Oscar winner Bigelow also took home the Film Critics' award for best director and is now likely to become a front-runner to take home the Best Director Oscar next year, having won the award previously for The Hurt Locker in 2010.

"Zero Dark Thirty confirms the massive talent of Kathryn Bigelow," said NYFCC chairman Joshua Rothkopf, a critic for Time Out New York. "Zero Dark Thirty is a very important movie. It's not triumphant and it's still a very significant dramatisation of an important event. And we were knocked out by the film."

Steven Spielberg's biopic Lincoln, covering the famous President's battle to end the Civil War and outlaw slavery, was also well regarded, scooping three awards, with Daniel Day-Lewis winning for best actor, Sally Field for best supporting actress and Tony Kushner for best screenplay. Lewis' award is his fifth from the NYFCC and cements him as the firm favourite to win his third Oscar in February.

Several of the early Oscar favourites, including Les Miserables, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook and The Master went home from the awards empty handed, however as there are no nominations announced for the awards it is hard to discern how popular these films were with the voters, with Rothkopf suggesting in his speech that there was strong voting for several films that didn't snag an award.

There were no mentions for Australian actors last night, despite bookmakers already giving the likes of Joel Edgerton, Jacki Weaver, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe good odds in Oscars betting. Rachel Weisz won the best actress award for her performance in The Deep Blue Sea, while in a quirk of the NYFCC Awards, Matthew McConaughey won in the supporting actor category for his performance in two films - Richard Linklater's Bernie and Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike.

The favourites for the Oscars - which will be presented on February 24 - will become clearer over the next week with the National Board of Review Awards announced on Wednesday and the Los Angeles Film Critics on Sunday. The Golden Globe nominations will then be announced on December 13.

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