Sunday, December 7, 2014
National Board of Review Winners
It's still early days this awards season but it's so far looking like an actual race to the Oscars this year with recent winners from critic groups like New York and Boston Online as well as the Gotham Awards not yet coalescing into a sweeper, which is good all around. In fact, I hope this season in particular the critic groups take a page from Boston Online and really go crazy and champion smaller out-there films. With that said, the same could be said about this past week's National Board of Review winners. Yes, they did their usual Clint Eastwood worshiping and some of their choices were downright odd, but bully for them!
A Most Violent Year
Top Ten Films
The Imitation Game
The LEGO Movie
Only industry insiders and intrepid film fans have actually seen A Most Violent Year which releases for the general public on the last day of the year (ugh) so I think more than a few people were surprised by its big win here topping Oscar front-runners Birdman, Boyhood, and The Imitation Game which all made it in. Their Eastwood obsession continues with American Sniper and Brangelina are well represented, but can we just talk about the inclusion of The LEGO Movie? I really liked the film, but who knew? Does this mean there's a chance Chris Pratt could actually be in a Best Picture nominee for four years in a row (Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, Her)? Fun, if remote, possibility!
Best Actor (TIE)
Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor
Edward Norton, Birdman
Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Jack O'Connell, Starred Up and Unbroken
Last year, this group's acting winners went on to collect in total just one Oscar nomination, but I have a feeling it's going to be different this year with Moore, Norton, and Keaton seemingly locks for their respective categories. This does give a much-needed boost for Isaac and Chastain. As for O'Connell, I think this will be just one of many, many breakthrough awards he wins this season. I don't think it's enough to catapult him into Best Actor race, but it won't be for lack of films on his part!
Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
Best Directorial Debut
Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Original Screenplay
The LEGO Movie
Best Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon 2
There's a lot of intriguing choices here. Again, their Eastwood love is showing hard with that pick, but Robespierre's small film did well to show up here and The LEGO Movie winning a major award like this outside of Animation is pretty shocking. At the moment, it IS the frontrunner to win Animated Film at the Oscars so it is curious to see it lose to How to Train Your Dragons 2 here.
Top 10 Independent Films
A Most Wanted Man
The Skeleton Twins
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Great list with some inspired choices in Locke, Obvious Child, Skeleton Twins, and Snowpiercer all of which I've seen and loved. It'd be great if critic groups (and the major award bodies) actually champion these smaller films more.
Best Foreign Language Film
Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem
Two Days, One Night
We Are the Best!
Top Five Documentary Films
Art and Craft
Keep On Keepin' On
The Kill Team
Last Days in Vietnam
Unfortunately, I haven't seen any of these films and even more shamefully I've only really heard of four of them including the Cannes-winning Force Majeure and the Rogert Ebert documentary Life Itself. Time to step up my screening game!
Chris Rock for writing, directing and starring in Top Five
William K. Everson Film History Award
NBR Freedom of Expression Award
As I said up top, it's still at the point where anything and everything can happen. I hope that it does.