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Zero Dark Thirty Named Best Film by National Board of Review

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zero dark thirty

The National Board of Review has just selected Kathryn Bigelow’s thriller Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, as the best film of the year. They have also given Bigelow the best directing honors and named Jessica Chastain, who plays a tough CIA operative who obsessively leads the hunt, as best actress. This is now the film to beat for the Oscar!

ann dowd in compliance

Ann Dowd in Compliance | Magnolia Pictures

There were some genuine surprises from the National Board of Review, including best supporting award to the seasoned and wonderful character actress Ann Dowd, who starred in the critically well-received but little seen film, Compliance. This is a huge upset, meaning she has bested favored actresses like Sally Field in Lincoln, Jennifer Ehle in Zero Dark Thirty, Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables, and Amy Adams in The Master.

Leonardo DiCaprio is a popular choice for best supporting actor for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. He plays an over-the-top villain – and really is there any other kind in a Tarantino movie? – with disgusting brown teeth, a wicked temper, and a plantation full of slaves. You couldn’t hate this guy more, and it’s rare and fascinating to see DiCaprio play a bad guy.

Best ensemble honors went to the brilliant cast of Les Misérables, although none of the actors were honored individually.

Looper won for best original screenplay by Rian Johnson, which is an upset, beating out such high profile screenwriters as Tony Kushner for Lincoln.

Bradley Cooper was chosen for best actor. He’s a popular choice and terrific in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, although so far this season, Daniel Day-Lewis seemed to have that award on lock down.

This season’s “It” girl, Quvenzhané Wallis of Beasts of the Southern Wild is honored as breakthrough actress. You can be sure she will steal everyone’s heart at the gala. And she will be able to enjoy the evening with her director Benh Zeitlin, who received best directing debut honors. As for Quvenzhané, for this honor she is following actors like Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence who won in previous years and are now having great careers.

Amour was named best foreign film. On Monday it received the same nod from the New York Film Critics Circle, which places it one step closer in that category for the Golden statuette come Oscar time.

After getting shut out of the Oscar nominated short-list of 15 nominated documentaries, I am happy to see Central Park Five has received the NBR Freedom of Expression Award. I am hoping the five exonerated young men are invited to the gala. They will share this prize with Promised Land.

The National Board of Review Gala, the most starry and glamorous movie event of the year in New York, takes place January 8, 2013 at Cipriani’s in midtown, and will be hosted by Meredith Vieira. It is not taped or televised, and the actors, especially after a few drinks, deliver hilarious and uncensored speeches that make the evening one of the most desirable and fun events of the year.

National Board of Review: Complete List of 2012 Winners: 

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 Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, LOOPER
Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Best Animated Feature: WRECK-IT RALPH
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Ben Affleck, ARGO
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 SUGARMAN
William K. Everson Film History Award: 50 YEARS OF BOND FILMS
Best Ensemble: LES MISÉRABLES
Spotlight Award: John Goodman (ARGO, FLIGHT, PARANORMAN, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE)
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: CENTRAL PARK FIVE
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: PROMISED LAND

Top Films
(in alphabetical order):

ARGO
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
DJANGO UNCHAINED
LES MISÉRABLES
LINCOLN
LOOPER
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
PROMISED LAND
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (In Alphabetical Order):

BARBARA
THE INTOUCHABLES
THE KID WITH A BIKE
NO
WAR WITCH

Top 5 Documentaries (In Alphabetical Order):

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY
DETROPIA
THE GATEKEEPERS
THE INVISIBLE WAR
ONLY THE YOUNG

Top 10 Independent Films (In Alphabetical Order):

ARBITRAGE
BERNIE
COMPLIANCE
END OF WATCH
HELLO I MUST BE GOING
LITTLE BIRDS
MOONRISE KINGDOM
ON THE ROAD
QUARTET
SLEEPWALK WITH ME

Paula Schwartz

Paula Schwartz is a veteran journalist based in New York who is passionate about the movies. Her idea of heaven is watching three movies in a row. She’s written for various outlets, including the New York Times, Showbiz411.com, More.com and MovieMaker Magazine. For five seasons, she contributed to the New York Times seasonal movie blog, Carpetbaggers, where she covered major awards events and interviewed stars like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Helen Mirren.

Paula Schwartz has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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