National Board of Review names Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Best Picture

“Zero Dark Thirty” was crowned the best film of 2012 by the New York-based National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Kathryn Bigelow took the Best Director prize for her work on the film, while Jessica Chastain won Best Actress. Bradley Cooper was named Best Actor for his performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” while David O. Russell’s film also picked up Best Adapted Screenplay.

The award is the second in a row at the start of the precursor circuit for Bigelow’s account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden following the New York Film Critics Circle’s crowning of the achievement on Monday. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association will speak up on Friday and may well join the club, which will lead many to chalk it up as the prohibitive frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars, if they aren’t already. But films like “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Social Network” know it’s not smart to count your chickens before they hatch.

In the supporting categories, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ann Dowd were singled out for their work in “Django Unchained” and “Compliance,” respectively. “Django” just screened for voting bodies within the week, while Dowd certainly has champions and gets a nice feather as she hopes to figure into a rather weak supporting actress field.

Speaking of figuring into a weak field, Rian Johnson’s “Looper” nailed the group’s Best Original Screenplay prize and even showed up in the top 10 list. Count that as a nice little endorsement for a film hoping to get there despite genre bias.

Other films included on the group’s top 10 included Oscar frontrunners like “Argo,” “Les Misérables,” “Lincoln” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” as well as indie hopefuls like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” “Django Unchained” also popped up on the list. Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land,” also a top 10 selection, landed one of the group’s Freedom of Expression awards (the other going to the documentary “The Central Park Five.”

Films shut out entirely include Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” and Robert Zemeckis’s “Flight.”

Full list of winners below.

Best Film: “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Django Unchained”

Best Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, “Compliance”

Best Adapted Screenplay: “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Original Screenplay: “Looper”

Best Animated Feature: “Wreck-It Ralph”

Breakthrough Actor: Tom Holland, “The Impossible”

Breakthrough Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Directorial Debut: Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Foreign Language Film: “Amour”

Best Documentary: “Searching for Sugar Man”

Best Ensemble: “Les Misérables”

Spotlight Award: John Goodman (“Argo,” “Flight,” “ParaNorman,” “Trouble with the Curve”)

NBR Freedom of Expression: “The Central Park Five”

NBR Freedom of Expression: “Promised Land”

William K. Everson Film History Award: 50 Years of Bond Films

Top Films (in alphabetical order)
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Misérables”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Promised Land”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
“The Intouchables”
“The Kid with a Bike”
“War Witch”

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)
“Ai Weiwie: Never Sorry”
“The Gatekeepers”
“The Invisible War”
“Only the Young”

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)
“End of Watch”
“Hello I Must Be Going”
“Little Birds”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“On the Road”
“Sleepwalk with Me”

The National Board of Review Gala will be held on January 8, 2013.

Remember to keep track of all the ups and downs of the season via The Circuit.