‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Lands Atop National Board of Review Awards

Of the several major fixtures in early precursor season, the National Board of Review awards announcement is often viewed as the official kickoff to the season. Though the New York Film Critics Circle already took that technical honor, and not too shabbily either I might add, the National Board of Review managed to heat up the race in a couple rather unexpected ways. The main news is that Zero Dark Thirty has officially become the frontrunner in the Best Picture race, with two excited wins under its belt and more certainly on the way. Jessica Chastain also slammed onto the scene after coming just shy of winning Best Actress from NYFCC on Monday. It’ll be interesting to see how her and Jennifer Lawrence spar over the Best Actress race moving forward.

Lawrence’s loss to Chastain should not emphasize any coldness to Silver Linings Playbook, since both Bradley Cooper and David O. Russell won Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, respectively. More notably absent from awards was Lincoln, whose Best Actor frontrunner Daniel Day-Lewis was assumed a shoo-in for the win. Spielberg’s film will have to land some major awards soon if it’ll hold the enthusiasm its recent box office success earned it. Absent entirely from both awards and the top 10 were Life of Pi and The Master, casting serious doubts on the likelihood of either making into even the nominations for Best Picture. While it’s not unheard of for a film to miss out on the National Board of Review’s recommendation and still be nominated, every bit of help matters.

There were plenty surprises to be had from the nominations as well, particularly in the supporting performance branches. Leonardo DiCaprio has catapulted himself back onto the scene for his firecracker villain role in Django Unchained, but of less overt villainy is Ann Dowd’s questionably reluctant torturer in Compliance. Dowd is the much bigger surprise of the two, and could be making a case for being a surprise dark horse of the season. One award that will make fanboys particularly happy is Rian Johnson’s Looper in Best Original Screenplay. The adamantly old-fashioned science-fiction drama makes a strong case for filling one of those up-for-grabs Original Screenplay slots once the Oscar nominations are announced. And though Argo didn’t manage the top slot, Ben Affleck’s accomplishment with the film was noted by the designation of Special Achievement in Filmmaking. Credit where credit is due.

The rest of the awards given by the National Board of Review are listed below, courtesy of Indiewire. What awards are you most happy, unhappy, or surprised about?

Best Film
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Best Supporting Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress
Ann Dowd, Compliance

Best Original Screenplay
Rian Johnson, Looper

Best Adapted Screenplay
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Animated Feature
Wreck-It Ralph

Special Achievement in Filmmaking
Ben Affleck, Argo

Breakthrough Actor
Tom Holland, The Impossible

Breakthrough Actress
Quvenzhané Wallis,  Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Directorial Debut
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Foreign Language Film:
Amour

Best Documentary
Searching for Sugarman

William K. Everson Film History Award
50 Years of Bond Films

Best Ensemble
Les Miserables

Spotlight Award
John Goodman (Argo, Flight, ParaNorman, Trouble with the Curve)

NBR Freedom of Expression Award
Central Park Five

NBR Freedom of Expression Award
Promised Land

Top Films (in alphabetical order)
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Looper
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Promised Land
Silver Linings Playbook

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Barbara
The Intouchables
The Kid with a Bike
No
War Witch

Top 5 Documentaries
Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry
Detropia
The Gatekeepers
The Invisible War
Only the Young

Top 10 Independent Films
Arbitrage
Bernie
Compliance
End of Watch
Hello I Must Be Going
Little Birds
Moonrise Kingdom
On the Road
Quartet
Sleepwalk with Me

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  • Zero Dark Thirty will win all the critics awards while either Les Miz or Lincoln will go on to win the Oscar. Looper should be considered for Original Screenplay Oscar. Interesting choices for Independent Movies but i am not a fan of On the Road. Overall very interesting choices, loving this year’s award season so far.

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