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LES MISERABLES: National Board of Review Best Ensemble

Les Miserables Hugh JackmanZero Dark Thirty: 'Director's Film'

[See previous post: "Kathryn Bigelow Zero Dark Thirty: National Board of Review Awards First Female Best Director."] Kathryn Bigelow's former "war on terror" movie, the Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker, was clearly perceived — at least by North American critics — as a "Director's Movie." Whereas back in 2009 Bigelow and The Hurt Locker easily dominated critics' awards, screenwriter Mark Boal, if mentioned at all, almost invariably found himself as a runner-up. (Photo: Hugh Jackman Les Misérables.)

It's a little early, but I wouldn't be surprised if this awards season Zero Dark Thirty, which was also written by Mark Boal, follows a similar "critics' awards" trajectory to that of The Hurt Locker three years ago. Thus far, Boal has been bypassed by both the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review. Admittedly, his consolation prize in early 2010 was an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Les Misérables: National Board of Review Best Ensemble and other winners

The National Board of Review 2012 Award winner for Best Ensemble was the cast of Tom Hooper's musical Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks. Additionally, Disney's Wreck-It Ralph was the Best Animated Feature; multitasker Ben Affleck won the Special Achievement in Filmmaking citation for Argo; and Tom Holland was voted the year's Breakthrough Actor for Juan Antonio Bayona's tsunami drama The Impossible, while the Breakthrough Actress was Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild, which also earned Benh Zeitlin a citation for Best Directorial Debut.

Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or and European Film Award winner Amour was the NBR's Best Foreign Language Film. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, and Isabelle Huppert, Amour is a top contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award and will quite possibly be shortlisted in other categories as well. The NBR's foreign-language film runners-up were (in alphabetical order): Christian Petzold's Barbara, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's international blockbuster The Intouchables, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's The Kid with a Bike, Pablo Larraín's No, and Kim Nguyen's War Witch. Missing in action: Leos Carax's Holy Motors.

Searching for Sugar Man Best Documentary

Malik Bandjellou's Searching for Sugar Man, in which two South Africans try to uncover the fate of 1970s rock 'n' roller Rodriguez, was the Best Documentary. The runners-up were (in alphabetical order): Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Detropia, The Gatekeepers, The Invisible War, and Only The Young. Missing in action: New York Film Critics' Best First Film winner How to Survive a Plague and Bully.

A few more NBR Awards: The peripatetic John Goodman received the Spotlight Award for Argo, Flight, ParaNorman, and Trouble with the Curve; the William K. Everson Film History Award went to "50 Years of Bond Films"; and Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon's The Central Park Five, and Gus Van Sant's Promised Land received the NBR Freedom of Expression Award.

The Central Park Five, about a gross miscarriage of justice and abuse of power in New York City in the early '90s, also won in the New York Film Critics Circle's Best Documentary category. Featuring Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Scoot McNairy, Lucas Black, Hal Holbrook, and Rosemarie DeWitt, Promised Land pits a couple of corporate salespeople against the inhabitants of an economically challenged small town.

On the Road, Moonrise Kingdom among Top Ten Independent Films

And finally, the National Board of Review's Top Ten Independent Films (in alphabetical order) were: Nicholas Jarecki's Arbitrage, Richard Linklater's Bernie, Craig Zobel's Compliance, David Ayer's End of Watch, Todd Louiso's Hello, I Must Be Going, Elgin James' Little Birds, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, Walter Salles' On the Road, Dustin Hoffman's Quartet, and Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish's Sleepwalk with Me.

Hugh Jackman Les Misérables photo: Universal Pictures.

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