What, is it funny or something?

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Nothing wrong whatsoever with the National Board of Review sticking its neck out today for Spike Jonze’s intriguing new romance – in fact, it’s a huge boost for what was seen as a fringe Oscar contender until now (the last NBR winner to not earn a Best Picture nomination from the Academy was “Quills,” 13 years ago). Fascinating for the more populist-leaning NBR to be the ones to go there; I was thinking that the LA critics might be the ones to go for “Her,” and they still might. In any case, it’s a great sign of a varied season that we aren’t seeing either “12 Years a Slave” or “Gravity” dominate so far – and for fans of those films, really, don’t worry, they will both very much be in it.

Elsewhere, all of the acting winners were different from the NYFCC choices, again a sign of the bevy of options. “Nebraska” seems a stronger contender every day, and Will Forte’s Supporting Actor campaign gets a big boost here. Also good notice for Octavia Spencer, who has to battle with voters’ short-term memories as “Fruitvale Station” came out all the way back in summer.

More and more notice for “The Wind Rises” and “Stories We Tell” (which also made the Academy’s 15-film shortlist in the Best Documentary Feature category yesterday) – not going to complain there. Miyazaki’s last film looks pretty safe for a nomination at the Oscars, but I would say genre bias would still have the family-friendly “Frozen” in the lead for the win there.

Meanwhile, not a ton of surprises in the NBR’s top lists (note, as always, that a category winner doesn’t actually make the top list in the corresponding category, so “Her” doesn’t end up in the Top 10 Films list – a slightly strange system, but if it allows for more recognition, why not). No “Blue Is the Warmest Color” in the Foreign Language Film list, the first sign of dissension there; also I have no idea what Peter Berg’s forgettable-looking Navy SEAL drama “Lone Survivor” is doing here. Most likely just an attempt to get Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch on to the red carpet.

National Board of Review superlatives

Best Film: Her

Best Director: Spike Jonze, “Her”

Best Actor: Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

Best Actress: Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

Best Supporting Actor: Will Forte, “Nebraska”

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”

Best Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises

Breakthrough Performance, Male: Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”

Breakthrough Performance, Female: Adele Exarchopoulos, “Blue Is the Warmest Color”

Best Directorial Debut: Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale Station”

Best Foreign Language Film: The Past

Best Documentary: Stories We Tell

William K. Everson Film History Award: George Stevens, Jr.

Best Ensemble: Prisoners

Spotlight Award: The career collaboration of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Wadjda

Creative Innovation in Filmmaking Award: Gravity

Top Films (alphabetical):

  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Lone Survivor
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (alphabetical):

  • Beyond the Hills
  • Gloria
  • The Grandmaster
  • A Hijacking
  • The Hunt

Top 5 Documentaries:

  • 20 Feet from Stardom
  • The Act of Killing
  • After Tiller
  • Casting By
  • The Square

Top 10 Independent Films (alphabetical):

  • Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • In a World…
  • Mother of George
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Mud
  • The Place Beyond the Pines
  • Short Term 12
  • Sightseers
  • The Spectacular Now

2 thoughts on ““Her”?

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