National Board of Review Gives 2011 Awards to ‘Hugo,’ ‘The Descendants’

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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
Awards 2011

Best Film

Best Director
Martin Scorcese, Hugo

Best Actor
George Clooney, The Descendants

Best Actress
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

Breakthrough Performance
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy and Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Debut Director
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call

Best Ensemble
The Help

Spotlight Award
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
A Separation

Best Documentary
Paradise lost 3: Purgatory

Special Achievement in Filmmaking
The Harry Potter Franchise – Distinguished Translation from Book to Film

Top Ten Films
The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
The Ides of March
J. Edgar
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
13 Assassins
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
Le Havre
Point Blank

Top 5 Documentaries
Born to be Wild
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Project Nim

Top 10 Independent Films
Another Earth
A Better Life
Cedar Rapids
Margin Call
Take Shelter
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Win Win

Don’t forget to check out the full precursor charts for the latest updates!

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  • Genadijus

    Probably Leo diCaprio need to wait for next upcomming years… The Great Gatsby and Django Unchained looks more locked for recognition….

  • I could not be happier about this. I love ‘Hugo!’

  • I did not expect Hugo winning at all. Wow.

  • Genadijus

    It looks like “Hugo” is replacing “Help” and “Girl with Dragon Tattoo” from Best Picture race…

    Moreover, I’m a little bit dissappointed about Gary Oldman, he is not dominating in any nomination-prediction list now….

    • That could very well be the case, although I would never count ‘The Help’ out. It’s the type of film that won’t score big with critics, but I could see the Oscars loving.

  • Surprised at Hugo winning best Film !!!!

    The Help should not even be nominated in Best film or Screenplay categories as to make room for others i mean it was nice movie but not that great …

    they missed Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Moneyball etc but overall happy at some wins ….

  • EvilJose

    Yay for 50/50!

  • I would have never predicted these movies to win (I guess I need to see Hugo now). The Oscar race will be interesting this year. There really aren’t any front runners and each movie has a good chance at getting recoginized in the next two months.

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