NBR Picks Martin Scorsese’s Hugo , The Descendants

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As mentioned earlier today, the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures were going to be announcing their annual awards and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo has won the top prize of “Best Film” while Scorsese has gotten the group’s award for Best Director. Alexander Payne’s The Descendants finally made a move after being snubbed at the Gotham Awards and by the New York Film Critics Circle, with George Clooney taking the group’s award for Best Actor, Shailene Woodley getting a Supporting Actress award and the screenplay also being recognized.

Independent films were also at the forefront with wins for Tilda Swinton for her performance in Lynne Ramsey’s We Need to Talk about Kevin and Christopher Plummer for his supporting role in Mike Mills’ Beginners. Will Reiser’s original screenplay for 50/50 also received recognition.

Gore Verbinski’s Rango received the group’s award for Animated Feature, while a Breakthrough Performance award was shared by Felicity Jones for Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy and Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Hugo marks the first time since the introduction of the current MPAA rating system where the NBR picked a PG family film for their top prize and their top films list covered quite a spectrum from frontrunners The Artist, The Descendants and War Horse to edgier fare such as Nicolas Refn’s Drive and David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Noticeably absent from the NBR’s picks was Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, which won two awards from the New York Film Critics Circle earlier this week.

You can read our earlier thoughts on how the NBR’s picks connect with the Oscars here and the full press release and list of winners below:

The National Board of Review has named HUGO the 2011 Best Film of the Year. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film was released on November 23rd by Paramount Pictures.

Below is a full list of the awards given by the National Board of Review:

Best Film: Hugo
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants
Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Best Original Screenplay: Will Reiser, 50/50
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Breakthrough Performance: Felicity Jones, Like Crazy
Breakthrough Performance: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Debut Director: J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Best Ensemble: The Help
Spotlight Award: Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class)
NBR Freedom of Expression: Crime After Crime
NBR Freedom of Expression: Pariah
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: The Harry Potter Franchise – A Distinguished Translation from Book
to Film

Top Films
(in alphabetical order)

The Artist
The Descendants
Drive
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Ides of March
J. Edgar
Tree of Life
War Horse

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
(In Alphabetical Order)

13 Assassins
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
Footnote
Le Havre
Point Blank

Top 5 Documentaries
(In Alphabetical Order)

Born to be Wild
Buck
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Project Nim
Senna

Top 10 Independent Films
(In Alphabetical Order)

50/50
Another Earth
Beginners
A Better Life
Cedar Rapids
Margin Call
Shame
Take Shelter
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Win Win

“HUGO is such a personal film by Martin Scorsese,” said Annie Schulhof, NBR President. “It is a tribute to the early years of cinema that uses today’s cutting edge technology to bring the audience into a completely unique and magical world. It is visually stunning and emotionally engaging.”

A select group of knowledgeable film enthusiasts and professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students, the National Board of Review viewed over 250 films this year including studio, independent, foreign-language, animated and documentary selections. These screenings were frequently followed by in-depth discussions with filmmakers, directors, actors, producers, and screenwriters. Voting ballots were tabulated by the accounting firm of Lutz & Carr, LLP.

The National Board of Review honors diverse members of the film community at their annual Awards Gala, which also acts as a fundraiser for student grant philanthropy. Hosted by Natalie Morales, this year’s Gala will take place on January 10, 2012 at Cipriani’s 42nd St. in New York City.