2011 National Board of Review Awards Winners The National Board of Review (NBR) Awards are significant in being the first of the major critics' awards to be handed out over the next few months. They are often a bellwether for the year's Academy Award-nominated selections. This year the NBR screened over 250 films including studio, independent, foreign-language, animated and documentary selections.

2011's top goes to Martin Scorsese's Hugo. NBR President Annie Schulhof said, "Hugo is such a personal film by Martin Scorsese. It is a tribute to the early years of cinema that uses today's cutting edge technology to bring the audience into a completely unique and magical world. It is visually stunning and emotionally engaging.” The NBR was founded as a clearing house for new movies, over a hundred years ago on January 25, 1909, just 13 years after the birth of cinema. Its stated purpose was to endorse films of merit and champion the new "art of the people," which was transforming America’s cultural life. oday, the organization is comprised of 110 members, many of whom are past recipients of the NBR student grant program which enables students and young filmmakers to finish their projects and exhibit their work.

Out of the last 10 years, three NBR Best Film Award winners have gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, including 2007's No Country for Old Men and Slumdog Millionaire the following year. I'm especially happy to see that five of the Top 10 Independent Films were also among my top picks from the 2011 film festivals I attended, including 50/50 (Toronto), Another Earth (Sundance), Take Shelter (Toronto), We Need To Talk About Kevin (Toronto), and Win Win (SXSW).

Here are the 2011 honorees:


Best Film:
Hugo

Best Director:
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Actor:
George Clooney, The Descendants

Best Actress:
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Supporting Actor:
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Supporting Actress:
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Best Original Screenplay:
Will Reiser, 50/50

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants

Best Animated Feature:
Rango

Breakthrough Performance:
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy

Breakthrough Performance
:
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Debut Director:
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call

Best Ensemble:
The Help

Spotlight Award
:
Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class)

NBR Freedom of Expression
:
Crime After Crime

NBR Freedom of Expression:
Pariah

Best Foreign Language Film:
A Separation

Best Documentary:
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Special Achievement in Filmmaking:
The Harry Potter Franchise - A Distinguished Translation from Book
to Film


Top Films (in alphabetical order)

The Artist
The Descendants
Drive
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Ides of March
J. Edgar
Tree of Life
War Horse


Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)

13 Assassins
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
Footnote
Le Havre
Point Blank


Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)

Born to be Wild
Buck
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Project Nim
Senna


Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)

50/50
Another Earth
Beginners
A Better Life
Cedar Rapids
Margin Call
Shame
Take Shelter
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Win Win



Author

Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at Larry411.com

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