National Board Of Review Chooses Hugo As Best Picture

The National Board of Review has announced the winners of their annual film awards today. A lot of the winners were expected, but there were also several surprises:

Best Film: Hugo
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, 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: Rango
Breakthrough Performance: Felicity Jones, Like Crazy
Breakthrough Performance: 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, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class)
NBR Freedom of Expression: Crime After Crime
NBR Freedom of Expression: Pariah
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: The Harry Potter Franchise – A Distinguished Translation from Book to Film

Top Films
(in alphabetical order)

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

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
(In Alphabetical Order)

13 Assassins
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
Le Havre
Point Blank

Top 5 Documentaries
(In Alphabetical Order)

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

Top 10 Independent Films
(In Alphabetical Order)

Another Earth
A Better Life
Cedar Rapids
Margin Call
Take Shelter
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Win Win

First off, congratulations to Hugo on a well-deserved win. I saw the film at a screening a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. The film is basically a film-lovers dream as it deals with the early days of silent cinema. It’s also good to see Scorsese getting some recognition for his accomplishment.

Looking at their top ten, there are some of the usual suspects (The Artist, The Descendants and War Horse, which got its first recognition), but also some very much unexpected choices. After the terrible reviews that J. Edgar received (reviews I have to agree with after finally seeing the film the other day), it’s rather shocking to see it in the top ten. The film is an example of rather bland and unfocused storytelling.

The Ides of March was a decent film, but nobody really expected it to make its way onto any Best Films lists. Fans of Harry Potter will be pleased to see the final installment of the series getting some recognition, which is another film that hasn’t really been getting much Best Picture talk despite the excellent reviews it received.

We’re also seeing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo receive its first bit of recognition with being named to the top ten and taking home Best Breakthrough Performance for Rooney Mara. The film just started screening for critics a couple of days ago. Not much is known about it so far but this will certainly add even more to its buzz.

On a personal note, I’m rather pleased to see 13 Assassins be named one of the top five foreign language films of the year as I was very impressed with it as a fan of Japanese cinema. Rango is not that big of a surprise for Best Animated Feature, though, my vote would have to go to the upcoming The Adventures of Tintin.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is the complete lack of Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris, which seems to have a locked spot for a Best Picture nomination next year. I found the film to be one of the best I’ve seen all year.

Looking over the National Board of Review’s history, they’re not a particularly good indicator of what will win Best Picture at the Oscars. In their 79-year history, they’ve only agreed with the Academy’s choice for Best Picture about 1/4 of the time, so I wouldn’t say that this win will boost Hugo up very far at the moment. My guess remains, for the time being, that The Artist will be picking up several top awards in the coming weeks.

What do you all think of these results? What would you have voted for? Let us know in the comments.