Knoxville — The Iowa Film Critics Association has named "The Descendants" as the best movie of 2011.
The drama, with a good helping of comedy, centers around a man (George Clooney) coping with the aftermath of a tragic accident that has left his wife in a coma. While she is still lying in a hospital bed, he learns she was having an affair, all while trying to become the main parent for the couple's two daughters.
"The Descendants" also took home the Best Director award for Alexander Payne. Payne bested Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist" and Terrence Malick for "Tree of Life". Other Best Film nominees were "The Artist" and "Midnight in Paris".
Clooney was one of the three finalists for Best Actor, but lost to his friend Brad Pitt. Pitt impressed the IFCA critics with his performance as a struggling Major League Baseball general manager in "Moneyball". The other nominee was Jean Dujardin in "The Artist".
Best Actress honors went to Viola Davis, for her performance as a maid in "The Help". The award for Best Supporting Actress went to Melissa McCarthy, who shocked and entertained in "Bridesmaids". McCarthy beat Davis's costar, Octavia Spencer and Shailene Woodley. Woodley was nominated for "The Descendants".
Christopher Plummer was named Best Supporting Actor for "Beginners". He plays an elderly father who embraces his homosexuality, following the death of his longtime wife. "Moneyball" received another nomination in this category, with Jonah Hill making the final three with Albert Brooks, nominated for "Drive".
In the Best Animated Film category, "Rango" took home the top honors. The film defeated "The Adventures of TinTin" and "Puss in Boots".
Finally, in a category unique to the IFCA, "We need to talk about Kevin" and the documentary "Project Nim" were named "Best Film That Has Yet to Open in Iowa".
The IFCA is comprised of critics who review films for various media outlets in the state.