The Artist waltzed away with four trophies at the 17th annual Critics' Choice Awards.

The black-and-white ode to the silent-film era directed by Michel Hazanavicius led winners at the awards, which are presented by the 250 members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

The Artist took the evening's top prize, best picture, as well honours for best score, costume design and director. The film is garnering acclaim from many other critics organizations including the New York Film Critics Circle back in November, which deemed it the best film of the year.

"I made a silent movie," French director Hazanavicius joked in English while accepting the award for best picture. "I don't like to speak so much."

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Viola Davis nabbed a best actress prize for her role in The Help. (Dale Robinette/Disney/Associated Press )

The Help, the adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel about black maids speaking out about their white employers during the civil-rights movement, followed behind The Artist with three wins in the ceremony's acting categories: Viola Davis as best actress, Octavia Spencer as best supporting actress and the film's cast as best acting ensemble.

"I absolutely knew I wanted to be an actor because I wanted to be somebody," an emotional Davis said accepting her award. "I wanted to dream big and make a mark somehow. That's something absolutely that Aibileen was not afforded. I considered it my honour to pay homage to these women at this time period who were not allowed to dream and not allowed to find their purpose.

Plummer gets prize for supporting role

Others who accepted trophies at the lavish Hollywood Palladium ceremony included George Clooney as best actor for The Descendants, Christopher Plummer as best supporting actor, portraying a gay father in Beginners, and Thomas Horn as best young actor for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

"Frankly, I didn't even imagine I would get this, but I have," beamed a surprised Horn.

Other winners included:

  • Best Comedy: Bridesmaids.
  • Best Action Movie: Drive.
  • Best Animated Feature: Rango.
  • Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Moneyball.
  • Best Editing: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
  • Best Makeup and Sound: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.