LOS ANGELES, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The New York-based National Society of Film Critics has named Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia" best picture of the year, the group announced Saturday.
"The Tree of Life," Terrence Malick's latest film, came in second, and Asghar Farhadi's Iranian drama "A Separation" third.
This is the first major award garnered by Von Trier's end-of-the-world drama during contentions in the leadup to the 84th Annual Academy Awards, which will be held on Feb. 26.
Malick, a reclusive filmmaker who wrote and directed his movie, was also nominated best director. Martin Scorsese, who directed "Hugo," came in second and Von Trier finished third in that category.
In the best actor category, first place went to Brad Pitt for both "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life." Gary Oldman followed for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Jean Dujardin placed third for "The Artist."
Kirsten Dunst, who played a depressed bride in "Melancholia," was picked as best actress, followed by Yun Jung-hee, who starred in Korean director Lee Chang-dong's award-winning film "Poetry," which focuses on a woman in her 60s who develops an interest in poetry.
Meryl Streep, who portrayed former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," ranked third.
Albert Brooks won best supporting actor for "Drive," while Jessica Chastain walked away with best supporting actress for her work in the three films "The Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help."
"A Separation," Farhadi's compelling drama about the dissolution of a marriage in contemporary Iran, received the awards for both best screenplay and best foreign-language film.
The film is the official Iranian candidate for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.
Forty-eight of the group's 58 members cast their ballots at Sardi's Restaurant in New York City, The Los Angeles Times reported on its website.