The National Society of Film Critics, of which I am a member, had a choice between "Life" and death today, and they chose death. That is to say, Lars Von Trier's doomsday celebration "Melancholia" beat out Terence Malick's cheerier "Tree of Life" for Best Picture by one vote. "Tree of Life" would make a comeback with Best Director and Best Cinematography somewhat later in the four-and-a-half meeting, but not before "Melancholia' scored again with Best Actress with Kirsten Dunst.
Is the NYFCC indulging in crass self-promotion by rushing to be the first critics society to present its 2011 awards. Are they, as some people such as blogger David Poland insist, a "business call. not a show call," putting their impact on the film industry (i.e., the Oscars) above their responsibility to disinterestedly weigh the merits of the year's movies? It doesn't matter: they're already underway.