National Board of Review names ‘A Most Violent Year’ 2014’s best film

The New York-based National Board of Review can often be a bit funky and fun with its Best Film pick. Movies like “Quills,” for instance, have taken the cake in the past. This year, they really, really liked J.C. Chandor's “A Most Violent Year,” handing the film its top honor as well as a tied Best Actor prize with Michael Keaton for Oscar Isaac and the Best Supporting Actress award for Jessica Chastain.

I had heard the film screened very well to the group, but I also heard “Selma” played through the roof. The problem, though, is that apparently the “Selma” screening, which was the last film the group saw, happened when a number of them had already left for Thanksgiving holiday. So I guess that was a difference maker in the end.

Nevertheless, a huge coup for A24 and a great, novel choice in a year that is shaping up to be all over the map.

Other winners include Julianne Moore for Best Actress, already high-steppin' to Oscar for her “Still Alice” performance. Edward Norton won the Best Supporting Actor prize for “Birdman,” furthering that two-horse race with yesterday's New York Film Critics Circle winner J.K. Simmons. Screenplay honors went to “The LEGO Movie” (Really? With that wealth of wonderful original screenplay contenders?) and “Inherent Vice.” Clint Eastwood won Best Director for “American Sniper,” but it seems he (and Warner Bros. in particular) always does well with this group.

Nowhere to be found was Christopher Nolan's “Interstellar,” which coupled with the “Selma” goose egg, is a bummer for the Paramount folks today.

But onward. No one announcement is going to make or break this race, and certainly no one announcement is going to be a game changer. This is going to continue to morph and evolve on its on schedule, and it's going to be fun to watch.

Check out the full list of winners below.

Best Film: “A Most Violent Year”
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 Adapted Screenplay: “Inherent Vice”
Best Original Screenplay: “The LEGO Movie”
Best Animated Feature: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Breakthrough Performance: Jack O'Connell, “Starred Up” and “Unbroken”
Best Ensemble: “Fury”
Best Directorial Debut: Gillian Robespierre, “Obvious Child”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Wild Tales”
Best Documentary: “Life Itself”

William K. Everson Film History Award: Scott Eyman
Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing, directing and starring in “Top Five”
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: “Rosewater,” “Selma”

Top 10
“American Sniper”
“Gone Girl”
“The Imitation Game”
“Inherent Vice”
“The LEGO Movie”

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
“Force Majeure”
“Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem”
“Two Days, One Night”
“We Are the Best!”

Top 5 Documentaries
“Art and Craft”
“Jodorowsky's Dune”
“Keep On Keepin' On”
“The Kill Team”
“Last Days in Vietnam”

Top 10 Independent Films
“Blue Ruin”
“A Most Wanted Man”
“Mr. Turner”
“Obvious Child”
“The Skeleton Twins”
“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”
“Starred Up”
“Still Alice”