That "The Artist" prevailed at the New York Film Critics Circle awards shouldn't have been a surprise. After all, of those 31 members of the NYFCC whose reviews are included in the ratings at Meta Critic, it was the highest rated among the pool of contenders.
"The Artist" - 87
"Moneyball" - 86
"Midnight in Paris" - 83
"Hugo" - 81
"The Tree of Life" - 79
"Melancholia" - 77
"The Descendants" - 74
The second-place finisher with the Gotham critics was "Melancholia" which, along with "The Descendants," elicited the most extreme reactions with some very high scores but also some quite low ones. Third place "Hugo" received overwhelmingly positive notices with very few negative reviews.
Passion can only carry a film to victory if it is strong enough to overwhelm on an early ballot. As the voting progresses, it is more important that voters don't have strong feelings against a film. Supporters for "Melancholia" placed it in the top three in several other categories while "Hugo" helmer Martin Scorsese was runner-up for Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius prevailed for "The Artist").
"Moneyball" and "Midnight in Paris" were generally well-received and neither was panned by any Gotham critics."The Tree of Life" was not as divisive but had its share of detractors. "Moneyball" won Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and Screenplay while Jessica Chastain claimed Supporting Actress for three films including "The Tree of Life," which also won Cinematography.