Saturday, December 3, 2016

National Board of Review picks 'Manchester by the Sea' as Best Film of 2016; Barry Jenkins wins Best Director

Awards season is in full swing, and each week, we'll see a different group of critics and voters announce their picks for the best of 2016. The National Board of Review is almost always the first group to announce their winners, which can often cause the group to be mocked in certain Hollywood circles. Nonetheless, the NBR is viewed as the starting gun for the most intense stretch of awards season, a position that generates quite a bit of excitement among cinephiles and film nerds. This year, the awards race is already coming into focus, with a series of films emerging as front-runners and several films disappearing without a trace. The NBR Awards won't have a major impact on the Oscar race, but everybody was still very intrigued to see what the group would choose (especially considering that they had already seen Martin Scorsese's Silence). On Tuesday, the NBR announced their picks for the best films of the year. Check them out below!

Best Film of the Year- 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

Top 10 Films

Hacksaw Ridge
Hail, Caesar!
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Patriots Day

Top 5 Foreign Language Films

The Handmaiden
Land of Mine

Top 5 Documentaries

De Palma
The Eagle Huntress
Life, Animated
Miss Sharon Jones!

Top 10 Independent Films

20th Century Women
Captain Fantastic
Creative Control
Eye in the Sky
The Fits
Green Room
Hello, My Name is Doris
Morris from America
Sing Street

In all honesty, there's nothing too surprising here. Many thought that the NBR would go with Silence simply because they were the only ones to have seen the film at the time, but instead, they ended up giving it the Best Screenplay Award and a slot on their top ten list. Manchester by the Sea feels like a safe pick, as it's one of the most universally acclaimed films of the year, alongside La La Land and Moonlight. Speaking of the latter, Barry Jenkins is seriously gaining in the Best Director category. I know that these awards aren't all that indicative of what will happen at the Oscars, but Jenkins and Damien Chazelle are going to be in a much closer competition than I ever anticipated. Casey Affleck continues his march to an Oscar with a win here, toppling Denzel Washington's highly praised turn in Fences. Washington's adaptation of August Wilson's play walked away with absolutely nothing from the NBR, which will certainly raise some eyebrows from Hollywood elites. Amy Adams should get a decent momentum boost, although it's still Emma Stone's Oscar to lose. Overall, these are solid, uncontroversial picks. We'll hear from more critics groups in the coming weeks, but the NBR has gotten things off to a good start.

Images courtesy of Roadside Attractions

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