National Board of Review Also Goes “Dark”

Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” has gone two-for-two now with NY-based critic’s organizations. The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures picked Bigelow’s account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden for its film of the year, putting the movie on a nice roll here at the beginning of the precursor circuit. It’s an unexpectedly good start, and puts “Zero Dark Thirty” square in the middle of the Best Picture hunt – some people will immediately call it the frontrunner, but we’ve burned on that one a few too many times recently (see: “The Social Network,” “Hugo”) for me to go there. Let’s just say it’s probably safe for a nomination.

Elsewhere, the “Zero Dark Thirty” also gave star Jessica Chastain her first boost in the Actress race. Jennifer Lawrence fans have no fear, she’ll almost certainly pop up in plenty of critic’s awards, and has the Golden Globe pretty much locked up anyway. Her co-star Bradley Cooper somehow managed to grab Best Actor away from the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman and Denzel Washington – I wouldn’t expect that to happen too many more times this season. In supporting actress, Ann Dowd of the little-seen but acclaimed based-on-a-true-story shocker “Compliance” threw her hat into another wide-open race. A grassroots campaign for her could very much still end with a nomination. Leo DiCaprio also got his first nod for the just-finished “Django Unchained” – the NBR often goes for the star-whoring, but Leo going villainous still seems like a pretty attractive bet.

Further down, I am digging the genre love in the NBR’s Top 10 list. In addition to “Zero Dark Thirty,” the organization saw fit to single out “Looper” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” two of my favorite films of the year by far for the way they play with genre expectations. Rian Johnson also got a well-deserved notice for best original screenplay, and I dearly hope that campaign can keep going all the way to the Oscars. “Django Unchained” also squeezed its way in to the Top Films, along with Gus van Sant’s farmland fable “Promised Land.”

The big loser, once again, was “The Master,” which got completely shut out of the equation. The LAFCA is really that film’s savior now. More surprising is the equal snub for “Life of Pi,” which has been cleaning up solid box office and great reviews, but couldn’t even crack the Top 10. Ang Lee doesn’t really need the NBR, though – he’ll most likely get some love from the guilds.

Check out the full list of winners below, and check back on Sunday for the LAFCA selections!

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 Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, “Looper”

Best Animated Feature: “Wreck-It Ralph”

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 Sugar Man”

Best Ensemble: “Les Misérables”

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

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: “Promised Land,” “The Central Park Five”

Top Films:

  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • 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:

  • Abritrage
  • 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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