The mysterious National Society of Film Critics held its annual dark rites in the winter gloaming, where the scattered bones of a first-born calf were tossed within a pentagram scrawled on the floor of the most southeasterly room to determine which films had pleased the order most this year. Unsurprisingly, they spelled out The Social Network, with the clear critical favorite of 2010 sweeping up awards for best picture, best director, best actor for Jesse Eisenberg, and best screenplay.

There were, however, a few surprises, notably a best supporting actress win for The Ghost Writer’s Olivia Williams—a performance and film that have mostly gone unheralded this season, potentially because of the awkward associations with director Roman Polanski. But now that Williams has beaten out favorites like The Fighter’s Melissa Leo and Amy Adams and Animal Kingdom’s Jacki Weaver—and given the film’s equally strong showings in the NSFC’s director and screenplay categories—some are saying Ghost Writer may have a shot at Oscar nominations. Although, as Williams herself avowed, should she actually win an Academy Award, she would hand the trophy over to Polanski. (Or, you know, Fed Ex it.)

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The other highlights of Saturday’s awards: Giovanna Mezzogiorno took the best actress trophy for her role as Mussolini’s jilted first love in Vincere, and edged out favorites Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) and Lesley Manville (Another Year). Carlos, which easily won best foreign-language film, also tied with The King’s Speech at 29 votes for best picture—just one point shy of winner The Social Network. Jeremy Renner’s supporting performance in The Town got some real recognition, coming in third behind The Fighter’s Christian Bale and winner Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech. And finally, Inside Job handily trumped both Exit Through The Gift Shop and Last Train Home for the best non-fiction prize. You can see the complete list of winners—along with the actual numbers of votes each nominee received—at the NSFC website. [NYT]