National Society of Film Critics Names ‘Goodbye to Language’ 2014 Best Film

Marion Cotillard 4
Marion Cotillard | Paula Schwartz Photo

The National Society of Film Critics chose Jean-Luc Godard’s 3-D film “Goodbye to Language” as the Best Picture of 2014. The surrealist fantasy features a bickering couple and  nudity, along with, more interestingly, Godard’s roaming dog Roxy. But despite its many visual treats, it has virtually no shot at being included in the best picture list come January 15 when the Oscar nominations are announced.

But the runner up, with only one less vote (25 to 24), is  “Boyhood,” and director Richard Linklater, who was chosen by the Society as best director, has gotten another awards boost. “Boyhood,” is now the Oscar frontrunner, having racked up some 85 nominations this season, including Golden Globe nominations and New York Film Critic honors.

The Society’s best actor awards went to Marion Cotillard for “Two Days, One Night” and “The Immigrants,” and Timothy Spall for “Mr. Turner.”  In the supporting acting categories, accolades went to Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) and J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”).

The appreciation was spread around. Wes Anderson received screenplay honors for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and “Citizenfour” received best documentary honors with 56 votes. The runner-up in the documentary category was Frederick Wiseman’s “National Gallery” with 19 votes. The Laura Poitras film is now pretty much a lock for best documentary film when the little gold men are handed out.

The Society, comprised of 59 movie critics from around the country, holds a low-key event where members vote the old fashioned way, by weighted ballot. The Society used to hold their event at Sardi’s but several years ago moved to the more august quarters of Elinor Bunin Munroe Center. There is still no fancy gala or reception; the society simply sends out scrolls to the winners.

Members include critics from major papers in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Denver. Its members also include the critics not just of Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and The New Yorker, but also of The Village Voice, The Boston Herald, and prominent online sites. Membership is by election.

Scott Foundas, the terrific Variety film critic and Q&A moderator, was elected chairman for 2015, succeeding David Sterritt.

Here is the complete list of winners (noted with an asterisk) of the National Society of Film Critics Awards:


  • *Goodbye to Language 25 (Jean-Luc Godard)
  • Boyhood 24 (Richard Linklater)
  • Birdman 10 (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
  • Mr. Turner 10 (Mike Leigh)


  • *Richard Linklater 36 (Boyhood)
  • Jean-Luc Godard 17 (Goodbye to Language)
  • Mike Leigh 12 (Mr. Turner)


  • *Citizenfour 56 (Laura Poitras)
  • National Gallery 19 (Frederick Wiseman)
  • The Overnighters 17 (Jesse Moss)


  • *The Grand Budapest Hotel 24 (Wes Anderson)
  • Inherent Vice 15 (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  • Birdman 15 (four co-writers)


  • *Mr. Turner 33 (Dick Pope)
  • The Immigrant 27 (Darius Khondji)
  • Goodbye to Language 9 (Fabrice Aragno)


  • *Timothy Spall 31 (Mr. Turner)
  • Tom Hardy 10 (Locke)
  • Joaquin Phoenix 9 (Inherent Vice)
  • Ralph Fiennes 9 (The Grand Budapest Hotel)


  • *Marion Cotillard 80 (Two Days, One Night; The Immigrant)
  • Julianne Moore 35 (Still Alice)
  • Scarlett Johansson 21 (Lucy; Under the Skin)


  • *J.K. Simmons 24 (Whiplash)
  • Mark Ruffalo 21 (Foxcatcher)
  • Edward Norton 16 (Birdman)


  • *Patricia Arquette 26 (Boyhood)
  • Agata Kulesza 18 (Ida)
  • Rene Russo 9 (Nightcrawler)


  • To Ron Magliozzi, associate curator, and Peter Williamson, film conservation manager, of the Museum of Modern Art, for identifying and assembling the earliest surviving footage of what would have been the feature film to star a black cast, the 1913 “Lime Kiln Field Day” starring Bert Williams.
  • To Ron Hutchinson, co-founder and director of The Vitaphone Project, which since 1991 has collected and restored countless original soundtrack discs for early sound short films and features, including the recent Warner Bros. restoration of William A. Seiter’s 1929 “Why Be Good?”

DEDICATION: The meeting was dedicated to the memory of two distinguished members of the Society who died in 2014: Jay Carr and Charles Champlin.


One response to “National Society of Film Critics Names ‘Goodbye to Language’ 2014 Best Film”

  1. Charlie Avatar

    Absolutely LOVED Boyood. It was very long, but totally worth it. Glad to see Patricia win – well deserved.

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