Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist.” (Weinstein Co. via Associated Press)

The Artist” got another awards season boost today after it was named the best film of 2011 by the Washington Area Film Critics Association.

The group — which consists of critics and film journalists from the D.C. region, including (full disclosure) this writer — elevated the silent film to best picture status over four other nominated movies in that category: “Hugo,” “Drive,” “The Descendants” and “Win Win.”

Other victors include George Clooney as best actor for “The Descendants”; Michelle Williams for her turn as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn”; Albert Brooks as best supporting actor for “Drive”; Octavia Spencer as best supporting actress for her break-out work in “The Help”; and Martin Scorsese as best director for “Hugo.”

The cast of “Bridesmaids” was recognized as best ensemble, while the scripts for “The Descendants” and “50/50” earned best adapted and original screenplay honors, respectively. (Read the full list of nominees and winners on the WAFCA Web site.)

“The Artist” has been on a roll so far in this admittedly early stage of the awards season race. Last week it was named best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle and also received five Spirit Award nominations, including one for best picture.

The next, most significant round of cinematic “bests” happens next week; the Boston Society of Film Critics and the L.A. Film Critics Association are both scheduled to announce their winners Dec. 11, the same day the American Film Institute will reveal its slate of honorees. Nominations for the Broadcast Film Critics Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes will follow suit.

Translation: Expect to hear “The Artist” mentioned again and again in the coming days.