Spike Jonze's tech-romance "Her" leads the top ten list of the National Board of Review, whose thunder was stolen this year by the New York Film Critics Circle vote Tuesday. Jonze also won best director. While the NYFCC gave "All is Lost" star Robert Redford its Best Actor prize, the NBR went with another 77-year-old, Bruce Dern, star of Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," as well as his co-star Will Forte in supporting.
In an indication that awards will be all over the map this year, NBR went with Emma Thompson for her role as P.J. Travers in "Saving Mr. Banks." In more wins for "Fruitvale Station," Octavia Spencer landed best supporting actress (the Independent Spirits nominated Melonie Diaz), the breakthrough performance award went to Michael B. Jordan and first-time director to Ryan Coogler; both won those awards at the Gothams Monday, and Coogler also won the first-time director trophy from the NYFCC. Also winning a breakthrough award is French actress Adele Exarchopoulos of "Blue is the Warmest Color," which took home best foreign film from the NYFCC. The NBR went with Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" for foreign film.
The Coens' "Inside Llewyn Davis" took home original screenplay, while adapted went to Terence Winter for Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street." (In this case the group did get a chance to screen the movie.) Building steam in the animated race is Hayao Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises," which also won the NYFCC. And following up its NYFCC win for best documentary is Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell."
In th NBR top ten list are Oscar frontrunners "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity," but notably missing is "American Hustle," which won Best Film from the NYFCC. This suggests that the David O. Russell film may have played better for critics than educators. Also missing from the NBR top ten lists are Paul Greengrass's "Captain Phillips," and Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" and J.C. Chandor's "All is Lost," which did not even join "Dallas Buyers Club" on the top ten independents list.
The National Board of Review is not a critics group but rather an organization of academics and film teachers; their awards carry less significance than the more august NY and LA Film Critics groups, but do help to build winning momentum and point awards voters toward the films and talent they should be sure to watch.
The list of winners is below.