And we’re off! The fall film festival circuit is over, precursor awards have begun (hello, Gotham), and now it’s that time of awards season when the critics groups weigh in. National Board of Review is the first out of the gate with the ridiculously early November 29th announce date, and the group has given top honors to Manchester by the Sea. Filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan’s masterful grief drama also scored Best Actor for Casey Affleck, Breakthrough Performance (Male) for Lucas Hedges, and Best Original Screenplay for Lonergan. However, Best Director went to another major Oscar hopeful: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight. After sweeping the Gotham Awards earlier today, the coming-of-age drama also won the National Board of Review’s Best Supporting Actress for Naomie Harris, marking a bit of a surprise in a category that many have pegged as sewn up by Viola Davis for Fences.
Indeed, the NBR made some curious choices all around. Amy Adams won Best Actress for Arrival over frontrunners Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Emma Stone (La La Land), and Jeff Bridges scored Best Supporting Actor for his terrific turn in the indie Hell or High Water.
With such an early deadline you may be wondering if the NBR voters even had time to see all of the films up for consideration. Silence just barely made the cut as Martin Scorsese completed the film weeks ago in time to screen for NBR, and as such his passion project scored the Best Adapted Screenplay award which goes to Scorsese himself and co-writer Jay Cocks. And yes, they saw Live by Night.
Missing the cut from NBR’s Top Films are Fences, Jackie, Lion, and Loving, but NBR has its quirks and usually picks a few left-field choices every year. As for how this relates to Oscar, last year’s NBR winner was Mad Max: Fury Road while 2014’s trophy went to A Most Violent Year, so it’s not much of a bellwether. It is, however, the starting gunshot for the critics groups, as Critics Choice Nominations and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards are both announced on December 1st. Here we go, folks!
Check out the full list of National Board of Review winners below.
Best Film: Manchester by the Sea
Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Best Actress: Amy Adams, Arrival
Best Supporting Actor: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Best Supporting Actress: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence
Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings
Breakthrough Performance (Male): Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Breakthrough Performance (Female): Royalty Hightower, The Fits
Best Directorial Debut: Trey Edward Shults, Krisha
Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
Best Documentary: O.J.: Made in America
Best Ensemble: Hidden Figures
Spotlight Award: Creative Collaboration of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Cameraperson
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Land of Mine
Top 5 Documentaries
The Eagle Huntress
Miss Sharon Jones!
Top 10 Independent Films
20th Century Women
Eye in the Sky
Hello, My Name is Doris
Morris from America