In somewhat of a surprise the National Board of Review has given their 2011 Best Film award to Martin Scorcese’s Hugo. The critically acclaimed 3-D film also earned the Best Director award for the legendary auteur. The second most lauded film was Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, which lead the field with three prizes for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The first major animated feature award was handed to Gore Verbinski’s Rango and the Iranian film A Separation continues its dominance in the Best Foreign Film category with another victory. Scroll down for the full list of winners.
As usual the National Board of Review Awards go to numerous expected Oscar frontrunners, but this year there was a nice dose of surprise. Hugo is one of the best reviewed films of the year, but many did not expect it to be a major player in the precursor race with films like The Artist or The Descendants more heavily favored. What was not a surprise was that the NBR top ten includes Clint Eastwood’s critically panned J. Edgar. The National Board of Review has shown a strong affinity for Eastwood giving him their top prize in numerous previous years. His recent films are often not well-received, but almost always manage to make their list.
The NBR also gives the first positive bump to David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by naming Rooney Mara Best Breakthrough Actor and listing the film in their top ten. The National Board of Review does not often reflect the Academy’s nominated films, but still this indicates a strong performance from Mara and decent enough quality from Fincher’s film. I would not at all be surprised if Christopher Plummer sweeps the Best Supporting Actor awards from here on and the screenplay for The Descendants will also top many a list.
The awards that may not repeat are in the Actress categories. Shailene Woodley will probably be facing off with Jessica Chastain (who just won the NY Film Critics award), Ocatvia Spencer, and Vanessa Redgrave. It will be a while before there is a clear frontrunner in that category. Tilda Swinton makes a solid run at that fifth spot in the Best Actress category with this victory. She will also likely be alternating wins with Viola Davis and Meryl Streep this year.
National Board of Review
Martin Scorcese, Hugo
George Clooney, The Descendants
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Supporting Actress
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Best Original Screenplay
Will Reiser, 50/50
Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants
Best Animated Feature
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy and Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Shame, Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class)
NBR Freedom of Expression
Crime After Crime and Pariah
Best Foreign Language Film
Paradise lost 3: Purgatory
Special Achievement in Filmmaking
The Harry Potter Franchise – Distinguished Translation from Book to Film
Top Ten Films
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
The Ides of March
The Tree of Life
Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
Top 5 Documentaries
Born to be Wild
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Top 10 Independent Films
A Better Life
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Don’t forget to check out the full precursor charts for the latest updates!