“A Most Violent Year” wins Best Picture from the National Board of Review

AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi Opening Night Gala Premiere Of "A Most Violent Year" - Arrivals
Moments ago (and after keeping us on the edges of our respective seats all morning/afternoon) the National Board of Review unveiled their 2014 award winners, marking another early juncture in the precursor season. After shocking a lot of people, including myself, by giving their top prize last year to Spike Jonze’s Her, they opted this year to cite A Most Violent Year as their Best Picture of 2014. The J.C. Chandor directed film led the field with three major citations, while Birdman was next in line with two. NBR definitely had an eye on mixing things up and did so, giving a whole new slate of winners after yesterday’s New York Film Critics Circle announcement.

Obviously, the Best Picture win is a boon to Chandor’s film. Taking this prize from the likes of Boyhood, The Imitation Game, and Selma (plus Unbroken, though that’s looking less like a major player right now…more on that soon) gives A Most Violent Year a leg up on some of the other contenders hoping to crack Oscar’s lineup. Does this make it a lock for the Academy? No, but it’s something for sure and clearly puts it in the top 15 at the very least. NBR isn’t the last word by any stretch, but it’s a notable early precursor, so this win is worth paying attention to. The film also tied in Best Actor, seeing Oscar Isaac share the prize with Birdman’s Michael Keaton, as well as won Best Supporting Actress for Jessica Chastain. That’s nothing to scoff at.

The other big winner today was obviously Birdman, which had the Best Actor tie as well as the National Board of Review choosing Edward Norton as its Best Supporting Actor. If you want to get technical, it might have even tied with A Most Violent Year for the most citations, as it also showed up as one of the group’s Top Ten Films of 2014. A solid haul for sure, and one that also gives it a bit of a boost, particularly with the likes of Boyhood and The Imitation Game just showing up on that list and nowhere else. Selma only received a Freedom of Expression Award, so at least for today, Birdman beat them all back.

Elsewhere, Best Director went to perennial NBR favorite Clint Eastwood for American Sniper, while Julianne Moore took home Best Actress for Still Alice. Best Original Screenplay went to The Lego Movie in a bit of an upset, while another surprising choice was Inherent Vice for Best Adapted Screenplay. Best Animated Film was How to Train Your Dragon 2, Best Documentary was Life Itself, Best Foreign Language Film was Wild Tales, and Best Ensemble was Fury, just to name some of the other notable victors.

Here’s the full list of National Board of Review winners for 2014:

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

Top Films
American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Lego Movie

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Force Majeure
Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem
Two Days, One Night
We Are the Best!

Top 5 Documentaries
Art and Craft
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Keep On Keepin’ On
The Kill Team
Last Days in Vietnam

Top 10 Independent Films
Blue Ruin
A Most Wanted Man
Mr. Turner
Obvious Child
The Skeleton Twins
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Starred Up
Still Alice

Stay tuned to see how all of these winners do going forward!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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