Actresses Viola Davis (L) and Octavia Spencer pose with the Hollywood Ensemble Acting Award backstage during the 15th Annual Hollywood Film Awards Gala Presented By Starz held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Oct. 24, 2011 in Beverly Hills

*The Brad Pitt/Sean Penn film “The Tree of Life,” a Terrence Malick-directed drama set in the 1950s [watch trailer below], was named best picture by the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Monday during a press conference held in Universal City, Calif.

Summer blockbuster “The Help” received two acting prizes: Viola Davis won for best actress and Octavia Spencer for best supporting actress.

The awards will be handed out during a ceremony to be held Sunday, Jan. 8, at Light Space Studios in Culver City.

Other movies rounding out AAFCA’s top 10 films of the year, following in order of distinction, are: “Drive,” “Pariah,” “Rampart,” “Shame,” “Moneyball,” “The Descendants,” “A Better Life,” “My Week With Marilyn” and “The Help.”

[Scroll down to view the full list of award winners.]

Entertainment journalist Kevin Frazier of “The Insider” will serve as host.

Receiving special achievement awards: George Lucas (Cinema Vanguard), Richard Roundtree (AAFCA Legacy), Hattie Winston (AAFCA Horizon) and Sony Pictures Entertainment (Institution).

In the audio below from Monday’s press conference, AAFCA founder and president Gil Robertson IV talks about the distinguished honorees and why they were chosen.

AAFCA president Gil Robertson IV on the 2011 honorees by CherieNic

In the audio below, Robertson clears up confusion over the group’s acronym and lists a number of AAFCA events scheduled for the near future, including an Oscar viewing party and three “synergy events” this summer – in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

AAFCA president Gil Robertson IV on the group name and future events by CherieNic

  • Best director: Steve McQueen, “Shame.”
  • Lead actor: Woody Harrelson, “Rampart.”
  • Best supporting actor: Albert Brooks, “Drive.”
  • Breakout performance: Adepero Oduye, “Pariah.”
  • Best Documentary: “The Black Power Mixtape.”
  • Best screenplay: Ava DuVernay, “I Will Follow.”
  • Best foreign film: Alrick Brown, “Kinyarwanda.”
  • Best song: Jason Reeves & Lenka Kripac, writers, “The Show” from “Moneyball.”
  • Best independent film: “Pariah.”

Below, footage from last year’s AAFCA Awards red carpet and the trailer for “The Tree of Life.”