After all that clamoring to anoint this or that contender, the New York Film Critics Circle was stuck in a theater being the FIRST! to see "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" while preparations for the first legitimate awards show of the season were being finalized. And say what you might about the Gotham Awards, which some argue turn in dubious representation of the independent film scene year after year, but I'm glad it was them, instead of a group led by outright ego, who fired the starting gun.
Alas, the starting gun didn't come with any particular dose of authority, as things ended in a tie for Best Feature. Two of the year's absolute best films shared the prize, however: Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" and Mike Mills's "Beginners." I am so okay with that.
The surprises actually started early, though, with a heartening win for Dee Rees in the Breakthrough Director category. Rees, whose "Pariah" has been nurtured all season by Focus Features, beat out high profile contenders such as Sean Durkin ("Martha Marcy May Marlene") and Vera Farmiga ("Higher Ground"), as well Evan Glodell ("Bellflower") and Mike Cahill ("Another Earth") for the honor.