Kathryn Bigelow Zero Dark Thirty: National Board of Review Best Film of 2012
Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for elusive Most Wanted Man Osama bin Laden, was the Best Film at the National Board of Review Awards, announced earlier today. Two days ago, Zero Dark Thirty took top honors at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards as well. (Image: Kathryn Bigelow Zero Dark Thirty set.)
According to its website, the New York-based National Board of Review is composed of a group of "knowledgeable film enthusiasts, filmmakers, academics, and students." This year, these "knowledgeable" people also sided with the New York Film Critics in their selection of 2012's Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow. This marks Bigelow's first NBR win. Back in 2009, that group picked Clint Eastwood for Invictus; their Best Film choice was Jason Reitman's socially conscious comedy-drama Up in the Air, starring George Clooney.
Also worth noting, is that the National Board of Review fell completely out of step with North American critics' groups in 2009, which overwhelmingly selected Kathryn Bigelow as the year's top director. Whether or not the NBR is now trying to compensate for its "oversight" back in '09, Kathryn Bigelow has become that organization's first female Best Director.
Additionally, Zero Dark Thirty won a third NBR Award, for Best Actress Jessica Chastain. The NYFCC had opted for surprise winner Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea, though Chastain was one of the critics' top contenders.
National Board of Review Top Ten Films
The National Board of Review's Best Film runners-up were the following (in alphabetical order): Ben Affleck's Argo, Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, Tom Hooper's Les Misérables, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Rian Johnson's Looper, Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Gus Van Sant's Promised Land, and David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook.
Missing in action: Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, Ang Lee's Life of Pi, Gary Ross' The Hunger Games, David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, Roger Michell's Hyde Park on the Hudson, and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and Walter Salles' On the Road were listed among the Top Ten Independent Films.
Leonardo DiCaprio latest 'name actor' in NBR's Best Supporting Actor category
Bradley Cooper was the NBR's Best Actor for his unstable former teacher attempting to rebuild his life in David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook. Leonardo DiCaprio was named Best Supporting Actor for his villainous plantation (and slave) owner in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained.
With DiCaprio's choice, the National Board of Review continues its tradition of selecting stars – or at least well-known names – in the Best Supporting Actor category. Previous such winners in recent years include Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Josh Brolin, Casey Affleck, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Alec Baldwin.
Ann Dowd: Surprising Best Supporting Actress choice
Also as it has often done in the past, the National Board of Review picked a "surprise" Best Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd for her performance as a (compliant) fast-food restaurant manager in Craig Zobel's little-seen Compliance (domestic box office: $319,285 according to Box Office Mojo). Other "surprise" NBR Best Supporting Actress winners in the last couple of decades include Anne Heche for Donnie Brasco and Wag the Dog; Lupe Ontiveros for Chuck & Buck; Cate Blanchett for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Man Who Cried, and The Shipping News; and Gong Li for Memoirs of a Geisha.
Another surprising NBR pick was Best Original Screenplay winner Rian Johnson for the action sci-fier Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as/and Bruce Willis. The Best Adapted Screenplay winner was the more predictable David O. Russell, for the generally well-received character piece Silver Linings Playbook.
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Kathryn Bigelow Zero Dark Thirty set photo: Columbia Pictures.