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Dec 02 2014

National Board of Review's Most Violent Awards

Glennhere with the NBR results as they come to hand.They used to be the first awards of the season to announce their winners,but now the National Board of Review are trumped annually by theGotham Awardsand theNYFCCin the merry-go-round that is award season.I maintain that unless you're a guild,your absence is more or less moot.However,it can definitely help get your name and face out there to be acknowledged early and often.The NBR is where the likes ofMoulin Rouge!and Amy Ryan made it known that they would be forces to be reckoned with.What did this 105-year-old group select this year?Let's find out...


  • Best Director: Clint Eastwood,AMERICAN SNIPER
  • Best Actor: (tie!) Oscar Isaac,A MOST VIOLENT YEAR and 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
  • Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Appears to not exist this year?
  • Breakthrough Performance: Jack O'Connell,STARRED UP and UNBROKEN
  • Best Directorial Debut: Gillian Robespierre,OBVIOUS CHILD
  • Best Foreign Language Film: WILD TALES (Argentina)
  • Best Documentary: LIFE ITSELF
  • William K.Everson Film History Award: Scott Eyman
  • Best Ensemble: FURY
  • Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing,directing,producing and starring in TOP FIVE
  • NBR Freedom of Expression Award: SELMA and ROSEWATER

What exactly does Clint Eastwood have on these people that they give him an award for almost every single movie he makes?Best director forAmerican Sniperand a placement on their top ten (below) seems...extravagant.

Anyway,it was a big day forA Most Violent Yearwinning three big prizes including best film.Will this film fall alongside the likes ofQuillsas a NBR best picture winner without a corresponding Oscar nomination in the same category?That super,ultra,very-very late release date still makes me worried.Whatever the case may be,the NBR loved it and good on A24.Ever the wealth-spreader,the mysterious organization likedThe Lego Movieenough to give it a rather shocking (although not entirely undeserved) screenplay win and top ten placement,yet Dreamworks'How to Train Your Dragon 2took out the animated film prize.They consolidated their breakthrough prizes into one award for handsome Jack O'Connell.Fair enough,I suppose.Meanwhile,after Jennifer Kent's win at the NYFFF and now Gillian Robespierre's win at the NBR,women directors are staking a claim to breakthrough director awards in 2014!


  • FURY

Remember,this is basically places 2-11 henceA Most Violent Year's omission.I don't claim to know how that works,but let's just roll with it.Very happy to seeNightcrawlerhere as now that the flurry of indie nominations have surpassed,citations for the Jake Gyllenhaal movie may be hard to come by.The rest of the list is pretty standard,although the people behindThe Theory of Everything,Big Eyes,Foxcatcher,Into the Woods,Grand Budapest Hotel,WildandWhiplashwill all be a bit miffed that they didn't receive a single token nomination anywhere amidst the NBR's field.Selma,too,being stuck with that kiddie-table "Freedom of Expression"award feels like a disappointment for that team,too.

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
(In Alphabetical Order)

  • FORCE MAJEURE (Sweden)
  • LEVIATHAN (Russia)
  • TWO DAYS,ONE NIGHT (Belgium)
  • WE ARE THE BEST!(Sweden)

I think the recognition of Lukas Moodysson's ace teen movieWe Are the Best!is my favourite of the NBR's choices.Way to go,NBR!Y'all should go watch it immediately.Three of these films (plusWild Tales,their actual foreign film winner - again,confusingly) are eligible for Oscar,with the Dardennes'Two Days,One Nightnow appearing on multiple award lists after the NYFCC yesterday.

Top 5 Documentaries
(In Alphabetical Order)


All six documentaries cited -Life Itselfwon the big prize as noted up top - are onOscar's 15-wide doc shortlist.That's some good dart-throwing,NBR!

Top 10 Independent Films
(In Alphabetical Order)


Ignoring the pure idiocy of a list like this that makes no sense (are independent films not eligible elsewhere?),this is a good batch of flicks.Blue Ruin!I was ecstatic to seeStand Clear of the Closing Doorsget an acting nomination at the Indie Spirits the other day,and now this little mention.That film is so good and I suggest y'all check it out if you can.It's small,but beautiful.Beautiful can't be used to describeStarred Upstarring Ben Mendelsohn and breakthrough winner Jack O'Connell,but I'm glad it showed up,too.LikewiseThe Skeleton TwinsandObvious Child,two of the best comedies this year that I'm sure the Globes will ignore almost entirely.

What do you make of this year's NBR awards?I'm sure we'll have more to say about them later when Nathaniel returns from hobnobbing with Angelina Jolie and I am salivating at the thought of another hilarious podcast as they discuss Clint Eastwood's magnetic hold over the NBR,but for nowdid they get it right?Embarassingly wrong?Let us know!

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Reader Comments (38)

Glenn,you're writing is such a pleasure to read.

I'm a little miffed about Whiplash's ommission from even the independent category.It's like the homely girl in 6th period who was left off the slumber party invite list.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterEli

And pretend I know the difference between "you're"and "your".

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterEli

Anybody know if the NBR is somehow tied to WB?Their surprises are usually related to WB movies such as Ed Zwick win for Last Samurai.They obviously love Eastwood so I don't take this win seriously and the fact that American Sniper is WB movie convinced me even more.

I am glad A Most Violent Year got some wins under its belt coz I am worried about the release date but at least now there is building anticipation with this win (hopefully).

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

It's totally unfounded;I know she's a strong contender for the win and a certainty for a nomination.

(But NBR's track record with Best Actress contenders lately,and Cotillard's win yesterday,make me weirdly nervous for Julianne Moore.)

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

Well this is at least interesting.It's not all obvious choices,so that's cool.

It also makes me wonder,since it's in their weird indie film list,if Still Alice also happens to be a good movie beyond Moore's performance?That would only help her if it is.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

So far...nice to see the wealth spread around and deserving movies/actors get unexpected boosts.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

DJDeeDay - it is good,Still Alice.It's not just Moore though it is an old fashioned star vehicle in that it's ALL about her.

Drew -- the rumor is that they try to give each studio a little something so they'll buy tables at their event but Warner Bros is always treated VERY WELL.It's almost important to know that they are NOT a critics organization.I dont know why people like to lump them in with critics awards.Even Oscar pundits do that and other sites and they simply have nothing to do with film criticism.They aren't even a journalist organization like the HFPA.

but they're choices are always fun in a politiciking kind of like "what's on their mind?way"

December 2,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Very happy for the Whiplash exclusion.And of course for my girls Julianne and Jessica.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Oh yeah!Really glad to watch A Most Violent Year and the incredible Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain win.Well deserved!I hope the latter ends up scoring a ridiculously deserved first Oscar win.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterStergios

Eli,thank you very much.That's sweet of you to say on a piece that was churned out in a hurry :)

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I like Jessica Chastain and all - but 3 awards in 4 years?I mean,I've had crushes too....but for NBR,this is bordering on an obsession.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJosh R

Josh -- she's got a long way to go before she catches up to Clint though ;)

December 2,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Very cool for Oscar and JC,who mostly got the shaft last awards season.I hope this will result in more attention for AMVY.Also,good on NBR for stiffing Theory of Everything,heh.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

As Jessica and Oscar are my favorite actress and actor from new Hollywood,I am ecstatic.Thanks for the fun,clever piece,Glenn.Let the games begin.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

@Josh: George Clooney piles them up and uses them as stairs.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Glenn -- hence why I'm impressed.Keep 'em comin'.:)

Josh -- I'm okay with this obsession until the west is freakin' won and she gets her damn Oscar!

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterEli

NBR is often off the mark.That is all.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJono

So The Lego Movie gets a Screenplay award and a spot in the top 10,but How to Train Your Dragon 2 wins Best Animated Feature.Not sure how that works.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered Commenterajnrules

So happy for my girl Jessica and Edward Norton!I knew they'd give something to American Sniper but ugh,I'm still not over the horror it was watching Jersey Boys.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

ajnrules: There IS a way to swing that,but it depends on the idea that you give your animated feature prize to the most smooth,flowing and interesting animation.So yeah,for me the prize amounts to BEST ANIMATED Feature.Not BEST Animated Feature.I kind of do that.Persepolis beats Ratatouille for Animated Feature in 2007 and Coraline beats Kells in 2009,even though I view those losers of the animated feature prize as better overall films (Kells is even my personal choice for the Best Picture of 2009).

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Jeanine Basinger deals with Clint Eastwood's archives at Wesleyan and he's a been a long time WB guy,but I think that wouldn't explain the non-Eastwood clinic the WB titles tend to do here.

The acting choices are pretty safe whereas Foreign Language pretty bold while still maintaining reasonable Oscar predictions (except that We Are The Best!wasn't submitted,Force Majeure was for Sweden).Bunch of good calls for Documentary given the short-list was out around the same time as the announcement,even with no Citizenfour.

Somebody needs to explain the Fury love.Cahiers du Cinema loves Eastwood films,it's not some American bubble.Fury is inexplicable.

Not enough people saw Selma,but I'm willing to bet kick out Fury,Inherent Vice,and Nightcrawler and add Selma and Whiplash (maayyyybe A Most Violent Year),that's your Best Picture nominees.I think The Lego Movie could take the Pixar/publicist/box office hit spot.

December 2,2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I lost all respect for Clint Eastwood when he talked to that empty chair.

And I think a lot of Academy members might feel the same way.

I predict NO nominations for Clint from the Academy.

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

In my opinion Clint Eastwood is the best director and American Sniper is the BEST FILM OF THE YEAR.
In my opinion,Clint Eastwood deserves all his awards.
Mystic River,Million Dollar Baby,Flags of our Fathers,Letters from Iwo Jima,Changeling,Gran Torino,Invictus,Hereafter,J.Edgar,Jersey Boys and American Sniper are the best films of the last 10 years.
In my opinion the National Board of review awards are the best awards of the year,and I agree with the awards.Clint Eastwood is the best director of the year,and in my opinion,American Sniper is the best film of the year.

December 3,2014 | Unregistered Commenterjames

@james: that was,errrr,enthusiastic,if a tad repetitive.Haven't seenAmerican Sniperso can't really jusge.I am a fan of Eastwood's in general but I find it hard to believe that anyone could considerJ Edgarthe best anything,let alone film of its year.

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

Is this were Moore begins her stampede toward Oscar.

December 3,2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

Carlos - i think James is doing Performance Art and pretending to be an NBR voter?That's the only explanation for naming 11 films from the same director as the totality of the best films of the decade.

Volvagia -- that's a weird way to judge a category.animation is an art not a science.who cares how smoothly things move.Some of the best animated movies are stop motion which is the least smooth.

Anna -- i almost wish that i hadn't used up all my Eastwood irritation over the years already because Jersey Boys really does deserve Razzie attention

December 3,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm happy for Relatos salvajes (Wild Tales).

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Julianne Moore and Jessica Chastain holding Oscars together.亚博主页(head explodes)

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Julianne Moore and Jessica Chastain holding Oscars together.亚博主页(head explodes)

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Joseph - right?that was worth posting twice!If Eddie Redmayne also wins it's like GINGER EUPHORIA

December 3,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I love it that Wild Tales was named Best Foreign Language Film.But,honestly,what are the eligibility criteria?Isn't it supposed to have been released in the US to qualify?As far as I know and according to the imdb,the film only showed in festivals and will not get a qualifying 7-day run.It will only be released Feb 15.So,what's the explanation?Additionally,Scott Feinberg over at the THR predicts it will be nominated for Best Screenplay...which is likewise confusing.

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Am I the only one that thinks that the Screenplay win,along with the top 10 placement,fuels The Lego Movie to Pixar territory of a Best Picture nom contender at the Oscars?亚博主页

I think,at this point:

Locked: Animated Feature
Really,really likely nominated and even maybe winner: Best Song "Everything is Awesome"
Likely contender: Sound Mixing,Sound Editing,Original Screenplay
Longshot: Picture,Art Direction/Production Design (we all know this would be really deserved),Score,Film Editing.

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Jesus Alonso: Personally,I think The Lego Movie is sketchy for either screenplay category.Too many original characters to work in adapted,too many pre-created characters to work as original.I'd almost actively WANT the Academy to say that The Lego Movie should have ALWAYS been ineligible for any kind of divided screenplay category and that the only groups who should have been able to honour The Lego Movie's script in any form are organizations with a single undivided screenplay category.

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

@Marcos...."Wild Tales"did a one-week Oscar qualifying run in Los Angeles on November 7,probably to campaign for a long-shot Screenplay nomination.It will open in February 2015 in other cities.Can't wait!

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDzong2

Dzong2: Thank you for the information!I didn't know,and it was not mentioned here in Argentina.Today Wild Tales recieved ten awards from the Argentine Academy.

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

MARCOS - i'd like to know more about the Argentine Academy awards?forward to me?link?filmexperience (at) gmail (dot) com

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Sent Nathaniel!

December 3,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

thank you.looking over now.

December 4,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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