Awards season got into full swing on Monday as the New York Film Critics Circle announced their annual awards - an early precursor 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.
Zero Dark Thirty - Trailer
A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and his death at the hands of the Navy SEAL Team 6.
The movie, which stars Australian brothers Joel and Nash Edgerton as Navy SEAL team members, won't hit American screens until December 19. Its release was pushed back after controversy surrounding the film swelled during the US election when Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were forced to deny claims they had received classified material.
The delay did not 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 Critics Circle 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 Critics Circle 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 Critics Circle 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.
Zero Dark Thirty will open in Australia on 31 January next year.
The 2012 New York Film Critics’ Circle Award Winners
Best Film: Zero Dark Thirty
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Screenplay: Tony Kushner, Lincoln
Best Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike & Bernie
Best Cinematography: Greig Fraser, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Non-fiction Film: Central Park Five, directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour, directed by Michael Haneke
Best Animated Feature: Frankenweenie, directed by Tim Burton
Best First Feature: How To Survive a Plague, directed by David France