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"Tree of Life" leads Chicago critics' picks

Brad Pitt in "The Tree of Life," directed by Terrence Malick. Fox Searchlight

Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" led in the race for year-end awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association win seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and acting nods for Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

The personal epic that spans the origins of life and the tensions within a Texas family in the 1950s, "Tree of Life" was also cited for its screenplay, cinematography, and for young star Hunter McCracken as Most Promising Performer.

Pitt and Chastain's nominations were notable - Pitt has received many critics' notices this season, but for his lead performance in "Moneyball"; and Chastain, who was featured in several films this fall, has receive most of her critics' nods for "The Help."

Tied for second from Chicago critics - with six nominations apiece - were "Drive," a moody thriller starring Ryan Gosling as a getaway driver; and "The Descendants," a dramedy starring George Clooney as a Hawaiian pater coming to terms with his familias.

In addition to Best Picture, "Drive" received nominations for Best Supporting Actor Albert Brooks (playing a crime kingpin), director Nicholas Winding Refn, and for its screenplay, cinematography and score.

Also nominated for Best Picture, "Descendants" was nominated for Best Actor (Clooney), director (Alexander Payne), and screenplay. Newcomer Shailene Woodley received nominations in both the Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Performer categories.

Other films nominated for Best Picture were Martin Scorsese's ode to silent cinema "Hugo"; and Michel Hazanavicius ode to the end of silent cinema, "The Artist."

Performances in independent cinema took the lion's share of nominations. Among those actors cited: Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan for "Shame," Michael Shannon for "Take Shelter," Kirsten Dunst for "Melancholia," and Elizabeth Olsen for "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

"Margaret," a long-delayed film from Kenneth Lonergan that received a perfunctory release this fall, was also recognized for the performance of lead actress Anna Paquin.

Winners of the CFCA Awards will be announced on December 19, 2011.

The full list of nominations is below:

Best Picture:
"The Artist"
"The Descendants"
"The Tree of Life"

Best Director:
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Nicolas Winding Refn, "Drive"
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

Best Actor:
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Michael Fassbender, "Shame"
Gary Oldman, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter"

Best Actress:
Kirsten Dunst, "Melancholia"
Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Anna Paquin, "Margaret"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"

Best Supporting Actor:
Albert Brooks, "Drive"
Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
Patton Oswalt, "Young Adult"
Brad Pitt, "The Tree of Life"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

Best Supporting Actress:
Jessica Chastain, "The Tree of Life"
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
Carey Mulligan, "Shame"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

Best Original Screenplay:
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Sean Durkin, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Woody Allen, "Midnight In Paris"
Asghar Farhadi, "A Separation"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, "The Descendants"
Hossein Amini, "Drive"
John Logan, "Hugo"
Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin, "Moneyball"
Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

Best Animated Feature:
"The Adventures of Tintin"
"Arthur Christmas"
"Puss In Boots"
"Winnie the Pooh"

Best Documentary:
"Cave of Forgotten Dreams"
"The Interrupters"
"Into the Abyss"
"Project Nim"

Best Foreign Film:
"In a Better World"
"A Separation"
"The Skin I Live In"
"Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives"

Best Cinematography:
Newton Thomas Sigel, "Drive"
Robert Richardson, "Hugo"
Manuel Alberto Claro, "Melancholia"
Emmanuel Lubezki, "The Tree of Life"
Janusz Kaminski, "War Horse"

Best Original Score:
Ludovic Bource, "The Artist"
Cliff Martinez, "Drive"
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
The Chemical Brothers, "Hanna"
Howard Shore, "Hugo"

Most Promising Performer:
Liana Liberato, "Trust"
Brit Marling, "Another Earth"
Hunter McCracken, "The Tree of Life"
Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

Most Promising Filmmaker:
J.C. Chandor, "Margin Call"
Simon Curtis, "My Week With Marilyn"
Drake Doremus, "Like Crazy"
Sean Durkin, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Tate Taylor, "The Help"

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