“Manchester by the Sea” has been named the Best Picture of 2016 by the National Board of Review, which announced its annual awards on Tuesday.
Amy Adams took Best Actress for her turn in the emotional sci-fi film “Arrival,” giving her a boost in a very competitive actress race, while Casey Affleck took Best Actor for his leading role in “Manchester.”
Naomie Harris took Best Supporting Actress for her brief but powerful performance in Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” while Best Supporting Actor was awarded to Jeff Bridges for the gritty modern Western “Hell or High Water.”
Barry Jenkins was named best director for “Moonlight.”
The National Board of Review’s Top 10 films list included “La La Land,” “Arrival,” “Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight,” “Hell or High Water” and Martin Scorsese’s largely-unseen “Silence,” which clearly screened for the group in advance of its deliberations.
While all of those films are considered strong Oscar contenders, the NBR also singled out Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” the Coen brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!,” Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day” and Clint Eastwood’s “Sully,” which have either been on the periphery of the Oscar conversation or, in the case of “Hail, Caesar!,” almost completely out of that conversation.
Conspicuously missing from any NBR recognition: Denzel Washington’s “Fences” and Jeff Nichols’ “Loving,” two of the films that have presumably made this one of the most diverse awards years in recent memory.
Ava DuVernay’s “13th” was also left off the list of the year’s best documentaries, which included “O.J.: Made in America,” “De Palma,” “The Eagle Huntress,” “Gleason,” “Life, Animated” and “Miss Sharon Jones!”
Asghar Farhadi’s “The Salesman” was named the year’s best foreign film, while “Kubo and the Two Strings” won for animation.
Last year, the National Board of Review winner, “Mad Max: Fury Road” and four of the films in its top 10 – “Bridge of Spies,” “The Martian,” “Room” and “Spotlight” – went on to receive Oscar Best Picture nominations, and “Spotlight” won.
In the last decade, the NBR and the Oscars have only agreed on the year’s best movie twice, with “No Country for Old Men” in 2007 and “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2008.
But only one NBR winner in the last 16 years, 2014’s “A Most Violent Year,” has failed to land a Best Picture nomination.
The National Board of Review owes much of its visibility to its place early on the awards calendar. While it is often lumped in with other film critics’ groups, the organization consists not of critics but of “knowledgeable film enthusiasts and professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students” in the New York area. It was established in 1909 and has been picking the year’s best films since 1930.
The full list of winners:
Best Film: Manchester by the Sea
Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Best Actress: Amy Adams, Arrival
Best Supporting Actor: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Best Supporting Actress: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence
Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings
Breakthrough Performance (Male): Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Breakthrough Performance (Female): Royalty Hightower, The Fits
Best Directorial Debut: Trey Edward Shults, Krisha
Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
Best Documentary: O.J.: Made in America
Best Ensemble: Hidden Figures
Spotlight Award: Creative Collaboration of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Cameraperson
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Land of Mine
Top 5 Documentaries
The Eagle Huntress
Miss Sharon Jones!
Top 10 Independent Films
20th Century Women
Eye in the Sky
Hello, My Name is Doris
Morris from America