Hot on the heals of the New York Film Critics Circle’s announcement yesterday, the National Board of Review has named their picks for the best achievements in film for 2014, naming J.C. Chandor’s crime drama A Most Violent Year as the year’s best movie. The film also won for Best Actor (Oscar Isaac), tying with Michael Keaton for Birdman, and Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain).
Taking a look at their list of winners, the group had some very interesting choices for several categories. Paul Thomas Anderson’s bizarre, drug-fueled odyssey Inherent Vice took Best Adapted Screenplay, while The LEGO Movie beat multiple top contenders to receive Best Original Screenplay. Also unexpected was Clint Eastwood snagging Best Director for his biopic American Sniper, which has merely been receiving so-so reviews thus far.
On the other hand, there were several picks that were somewhat expected, including Julianne Moore’s win for Best Actress for her outstanding performance as a woman dealing with Alzheimer’s in Still Alice. Also unsurprising was Edward Norton’s win for his incredible work in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.
While it is a major win for A Most Violent Year, the NBR has a recent history of choosing films that don’t usually go on to win Best Picture. In fact, you’d have to go back to 2007 and 2008 to find their last picks that did (No Country for Old Men and Slumdog Millionaire), and then all the way back to 1999 (American Beauty), meaning this could very well be the height the film achieves. However, it’s still very early in the season, so we’ll just have to see how things proceed as we continue.
For a complete list of today’s winners, including the NBR’s additional Top Ten of the Year, please see below:
Best Film: A Most Violent Year
Best Director: Clint Eastwood – American Sniper
Best Actor (TIE): Oscar Isaac – A Most Violent Year; Michael Keaton – Birdman
Best Actress: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton – Birdman
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
Best Original Screenplay: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller – The Lego Movie
Best Adapted Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson – Inherent Vice
Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Breakthrough Performance: Jack O’Connell – Starred Up & Unbroken
Best Directorial Debut: Gillian Robespierre – Obvious Child
Best Foreign Language Film: Wild Tales
Best Documentary: Life Itself
William K. Everson Film History Award: Scott Eyman
Best Ensemble: Fury
Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing, directing, and starring in – Top Five
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Rosewater
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Selma
The Imitation Game
The Lego Movie
Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem
Two Days, One Night
We Are the Best!
Top 5 Documentaries
Art and Craft
Keep On Keepin’ On
The Kill Team
Last Days in Vietnam
Top 10 Independent Films
A Most Wanted Man
The Skeleton Twins
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors