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With winners announced for NYFCC and NBR, the awards season begins

Joshua Rothkopf

We're still more than 80 days away from the Oscars (Feb 22, 2015 on ABC) and yet it's arguable that certain campaigns took sharp turns yesterday and today as two major critics groups, the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, announced their winners. Neither group, it should be stressed, has a direct, quantifiable impact on the Academy Awards. But in a field where perception is everything (and speculation feeds the gaping maw of awards coverage), some correlations could be argued. Both groups offered surprise picks, emphasizing a contest that's far from over—and hardly as crystal-clear as confident prognosticators would have you believe.

For the fourth year in a row, the New York Film Critics Circle was the first national critics group to announce its winners (full disclosure: I'm an active member and served as chair in 2012 and 2013). As the vote advanced on Monday morning and the names of winners were live-tweeted by the NYFCC's publicists, there were unexpected gasps—both inside the voting room and in the wider film world. For his mighty portrayal of controversial painter J.M.W. Turner in Mr. Turner, Timothy Spall won Best Actor in a field crowded with highly touted contenders. And Marion Cotillard captured the Best Actress prize for a pair of performances in respected underdogs: The Immigrant (pictured) and Two Days, One Night (the latter opens December 24).

The National Board of Review, meanwhile, announced its awards this afternoon. While the composition of that group is more murky, it too seemed to buck expectations: Although NBR favorite Clint Eastwood prevailed in the Best Director category for his forthcoming American Sniper, J.C. Chandor's superbly concentrated New York City drama A Most Violent Year won awards for Best Film, Best Actor (Oscar Isaac tied with Birdman's Michael Keaton) and Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain). And Inherent Vice won its first award of the season for Paul Thomas Anderson's adapted screenplay—a notable victory over Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.

The full list of winners for both groups follows:

New York Film Critics Circle

Best Film: Boyhood

Best Actor: Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard (The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night)

Best Director: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

Best Animated Film: The Lego Movie

Best Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Special Award: Adrienne Mencia

Best Cinematography: Darius Khondji (The Immigrant)

Best First Film: Jennifer Kent (The Babadook)

Best Non-fiction Film (Documentary): Citizenfour

National Board of Review

Best Film: A Most Violent Year

Best Director: Clint Eastwood (American Sniper)

Best Actor: Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year) and Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Best Actress: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton (Birdman)

Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

Best Original Screenplay: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)

Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Breakthrough Performance: Jack O’Connell (Starred Up and Unbroken)

Best Directorial Debut: Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child)

Best Foreign Language Film: Wild Tales

Best Documentary: Life Itself

William K. Everson Film History Award: Scott Eyman

Best Ensemble: Fury

Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing, directing, and starring in Top Five

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Rosewater

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Selma

Top 10 Films
: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, Fury, Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Lego Movie, Nightcrawler, Unbroken

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
: Force Majeure, Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem, Leviathan, Two Days, One Night, We Are the Best!

Top 5 Documentaries
: Art and Craft, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Keep On Keepin’ On, The Kill Team, Last Days in Vietnam

Top 10 Independent Films
: Blue Ruin, Locke, A Most Wanted Man, Mr. Turner, Obvious Child, The Skeleton Twins, Snowpiercer, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Starred Up, Still Alice


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