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National Board of Review 2014 Top 10 and Award Winners

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The best film of the year? NBR says so. ()

The best film of the year? NBR says so. (Source)

It’s here! The NBR has spoken!

It’s not one of their great lists–there’s no crazy left-field pick like Walter Mitty here–but there are some pleasant surprises. And certainly A Most Violent Year was an unexpected choice, but from what I’ve heard about it, a reasonable one.

I’ll do the top 10 first (always), then the awards, and once I’ve seen all the films, I’ll do a full report for the NBR Project.

Best Film: A Most Violent Year

Interesting choice. I haven’t been blown away by the trailers, but given the acclaim it’s received to date, I’m quite ready to see it. J.C. Chandor impressed me with All is Lost.

Also, this is another award that didn’t go to Boyhood.

Top 10:

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Fury
  • Gone Girl
  • The Imitation Game
  • Inherent Vice
  • The Lego Movie
  • Nightcrawler
  • Unbroken

American Sniper makes sense, because the NBR loves Eastwood. Birdman, of course, I support. Boyhood I accept. Fury I don’t really get. I still don’t really “get” that film. Solid and all, but something was missing for me. Gone Girl goes without saying.

Imitation Game was kind of a given. Inherent Vice is weird, especially since the reception so far has been mixed, but I’m glad to see it here, especially since they overlooked The Master. The Lego Movie is also weird; I enjoyed it, but in retrospect, it’s probably been a little overhyped. Nightcrawler was admittedly unexpected, but it’s a great film, so I’m happy with it.

Unbroken has received pretty underwhelming early reviews, but it makes sense that they’d pick it. I’ll still see it.

It’s worth noting: no Selma, no Interstellar, no Grand Budapest Hotel, no Theory of Everything or Whiplash. The NBR is idiosyncratic enough that I won’t say this scotches their Oscar chances, but it is worth noting.

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper

Hmm. Weird. It does look like his best film in a while based on the trailers, but this, especially from them, feels like egregious Clint-love. I’d be surprised if the Oscars even nominated him.

Best Actor (tie): Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year/Michael Keaton, Birdman

I like Oscar Isaac a lot, and Michael Keaton is presently my #1, so I support this.

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

I don’t know why I’m so meh towards this film. I’m sure it’s good and I’m sure Moore’s good (and if she wins the Oscar, she’ll have been long overdue). Personally, I’d have gone with Rosamund Pike, but I’m not going to object.

A son-of-a-bitch who's a great actor is still a great actor. And still a son-of-a-bitch. ()

A couple of losers who happen to be winners.

Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton, Birdman

He’s my #1. Of course I’m okay with this. If it weren’t for the fact that he kind of disappears towards the end, I’d say he’d have a much better chance at winning the big one with this.

Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Not Patricia Arquette. Interesting choice. Also, I guess they’ve decided Chastain is Supporting here (there’d been some debate as to whether she was Lead or Supporting). So that clears that up, I guess?

To be fair, A Most Violent Year and Birdman are both New York movies, and the NBR is New York-based, so that may be a little bias on their part. But I generally trust them.

Best Original Screenplay: The Lego Movie

Wait, what? That’s the second time in two days a comedy from early in the year (i.e., something that normally doesn’t win Oscars) has won this! That’s so fucking weird. I have no idea what’s winning the Oscar here at this rate.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Inherent Vice

Wow. That’s really all I have to say. This is bizarre. The writing categories are gonna be a mess this year, aren’t they?

Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Yeah, put The Lego Movie in your Top 10 and give it Original Screenplay, but give this Best Animated Feature. That makes so much sense.

Also, apparently people liked this? I sort of assumed it was a letdown.


Kind of a big deal this year. (Source)

Breakthrough Performance: Jack O’Connell, Starred Up/Unbroken

This I get, though. I’m guessing ’71 wasn’t eligible.

Best Directorial Debut: Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child

I really do need to see this. I could think of other films I’d pick here, but this seems to be a reasonable choice.

Also, “Gillian Robespierre” is a pretty awesome name.

Best Foreign Language Film: Wild Tales

Not Ida or Leviathan? Interesting. I do want to see this as well. It sounds weird enough.

Best Documentary Film: Life Itself

I’m not surprised. I also need to see this. (Worth noting: they picked this over CITIZENFOUR.)

Best Ensemble: Fury

It was a decent ensemble, but…over Birdman? Or Inherent Vice? They picked Prisoners last year, which made more sense.

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Rosewater and Selma

Ah, there’s Selma. So they did want to acknowledge it. I still wonder why it didn’t make the top 10, but so it goes.

And Rosewater. I guess I should see it.

Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing, directing, and starring in Top Five

Hell yeah! Been a big fan of Rock for years. And I really want to see Top Five. This I like.

Top 5 Foreign Language Films:

  • Force Majeure
  • Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
  • Leviathan
  • Two Days, One Night
  • We Are the Best!

Need to finally see We Are the Best! Gett might be the odd one out, maybe not. Pretty good list.

Top 5 Documentaries:

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

Still no CITIZENFOUR. That’s strange. And Jodorowsky’s Dune is the only one of these I really want to see.


Eternally itself.

Top 10 Independent Films:

  • Blue Ruin
  • Locke
  • Mr. Turner
  • A Most Wanted Man
  • Obvious Child
  • The Skeleton Twins
  • Snowpiercer
  • Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
  • Starred Up
  • Still Alice

You know my feelings about Snowpiercer.

This is actually quite a good list. Not a big fan of Most Wanted Man or Skeleton Twins, but Locke is great, and I really want to see…well, pretty much everything I haven’t already seen. Especially Stand Clear. I’m really glad that got on.

A bit surprised Mr. Turner is here and Nightcrawler made the Top 10.

Good picks overall. I don’t agree with everything (no mention of Dear White People? Shame), but it’s another important step on the road to the Oscars. I’m not sure who’s next, but rest assured, I’m ready for them.


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