National Board of Review Names 'Her' Best Film of 2013

National Board of Review 2013 winners
Joaquin Phoenix in Her
Photo: Warner Bros.

I am loving the just announced awards from the National Board of Review for 2013, naming Spike Jonze's Her the best film as this year's award race is clearly not shaping up to be as obvious as many predicted it would be. How so? Well, supposed frontrunners 12 Years a Slave and Gravity were shut out of the major awards until both were named in the subsequent list of top ten films of the year (naturally) and Gravity was given the award for Creative Innovation in Filmmaking (seems appropriate).

I will say, however, as much as I love Her, giving Jonze the award for Best Director is a bit surprising while the Coen brothers won Best Original Screenplay. I would have been less surprised had those two been flipped, though I definitely love the attention shown Inside Llewyn Davis and a script certainly worthy of attention.

Something of a surprise, though not really considering she gives a great performance, is Best Actress going to Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks as the Oscar race between her and Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) is sure to heat up as the months go on, that is, depending on whether or not both are committed to campaigning on equal terms. Should one get their face out there a little more it could make all the difference.

Nebraska had a nice showing with not only being listed in the top ten, but also seeing both Bruce Dern and Will Forte winning acting kudos as Forte's stock has definitely risen in recent weeks and he is now looking more and more like a Best Supporting Actor nominee while Dern's position continues to be fortified as I recently bumped him out of the Best Actor race, but that will be changing soon enough.

Fruitvale Station saw wins for Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan, the latter winning another Breakthrough award as his mantle may collapse with similar trophies by the end of the year. Same goes for director Ryan Coogler who also won for Best Directorial Debut.

Otherwise, The Past won for Best Foreign Film and Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell takes home another documentary win. The complete list of winners is directly below and I have already updated the Oscar Overture with the win for Her, which you can see right here.

This Sunday the Los Angeles Film Critics will hand out their awards as it is now full steam ahead to the 2014 Oscars.

Best Film: Her

Best Director: Spike Jonze (Her)

Best Actor: Bruce Dern (Nebraska)

Best Actress: Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

Best Supporting Actor: Will Forte (Nebraska)

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station)

Best Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises

Breakthrough Performance: Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station)

Breakthrough Performance: Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color)

Best Directorial Debut: Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station)

Best Foreign Language Film: The Past

Best Documentary: Stories We Tell

William K. Everson Film History Award: George Stevens, Jr.

Best Ensemble: Prisoners

Spotlight Award: Career Collaboration of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Wadjda

Creative Innovation in Filmmaking Award: Gravity

Top Films (in alphabetical order)

  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Lone Survivor
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)

  • Beyond the Hills
  • Gloria
  • The Grandmaster
  • A Hijacking
  • The Hunt

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)

  • 20 Feet from Stardom
  • The Act of Killing
  • After Tiller
  • Casting By
  • The Square

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)

  • Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • In a World...
  • Mother of George
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Mud
  • The Place Beyond the Pines
  • Short Term 12
  • Sightseers
  • The Spectacular Now
  • Heather Martin

    Again, slightly disappointed to see 12 Years A Slave getting hardly any love, though last year the top awards didn't end up going to any of the Oscar winners. I still think 12 Years a Slave will be a pretty tough contender for the rest of awards season though.

    However, it is worth noting American Hustle was shut out completely. Not a single award for it, as well as being excluded from the Top 10 Films of the year.

    This year may be a little more straightforward than originally thought (though isn't it always?)

    • Ian

      I wonder if the critics associations are so convinced 12 Years a Slave will sweep the major awards that they're deliberately going outside the box and recognizing more unexpected movies.

    • lalecture

      Hustle being shutout says a lot for its chances in the upcoming awards. Which for the record has me totally bummed. I am happy for her though.
      I'll wait until I see them for myself to number my picks.

  • Fox

    . . . Her?

  • Bertram J. Krogh

    Two Danish films in the Foreign Language category! This is just great.

    I really like some of these choices. Especially the indie category; those are some great nominees.

  • StephanieB

    I was shocked when going through the list to discover that I have already seen 8 of the 10 independent films. Kudos to my local theaters for bringing some wonderful films to my neck of the woods. I am always pleased when Short Term 12 or The Spectacular Now pop up and this is no exception.

  • Adu

    Quite surprising to see the absence of American Hustle...but the recognition for Her is a refreshing substitue. I was also quite happy to see Prisoners win something.

  • Ronnie Errick

    Wow, what a way to shake up the race! Glad to see the love for deserving films (Her, Fruitvale Station, etc.). I am even gladder that there is no love for that horrid fest named 'American Hustle'. Way to go, NBR.

  • Ian

    This is a pretty warm fuzzy list, I guess just proving there are a few potential such directions this season could go besides just Saving Mr. Banks. Nebraska is probably guaranteed a Best Picture nomination at this point, so that's another one all the old white men can vote for.

  • Michael

    I for one, am glad Fruitvale Station is getting some love. Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer & Ryan Coogler all deserves the attention they are getting right now.

    • Ian

      The problem is aside from Spencer they're not getting "real" awards. They're getting these breakthrough awards as though no one recognizes the movie or the work in it as worthy of competing with other movies from more "accomplished" people.

      • Michael

        I know that but at least it's "something".

      • zm

        They did put it in their top 10.

    • lalecture

      I do appreciate the NBR going back over the year to choose deserving films and actors. It is nice to see Fruitvale get attention.

  • Beautifulm

    It's nice to see them spread the love, but in terms of Oscar these critic group awards really don't mean much.

  • Elijah

    I'm seriously enjoying this awards season, it's a little less predictable than in recent years. "Her" goes wide release the day after my birthday so I'm super excited. Seen Fruitvale, 12 Years, Gravity, and Prisoners so there's some top quality stuff here (IMO).

  • Gautam Anand

    Woww.. great taste shown by NBR to pick HER as Best Picture. But HER needs more love for it to be in Oscar nomination list for Best Picture.

  • Tony L

    I think it's interesting that Middy made the list...

  • Burt Mizaki

    It's nice to see Spike Jonze back again :) And Brad, how long will American Hustle still be No1 in your predictions?

  • maja

    Loving the recognition for Prisoners and intrigued by that of Walter Mitty.

  • Andrea

    Wonderful Gloria!!!

  • zm

    A little surprised Blue isn't in the top 5 foreign language films. Or does that have to do with an eligibility issue like the Oscars?

    • Bertram J. Krogh

      That puzzles me as well. Adele Exarchopoulos received their breakthrough reward for a female actor, so you’d think it would be eligible for Best Foreign Film as well.

      • zm

        Yeah, the eligibility is weird for the Oscars though. It's not eligible in the Foreign Film category but is eligible in others such as Best Picture, Actress, etc. So could be a similar situation.

  • Max

    Prisoners made the Top Ten and got Best Ensemble (deservedly). And Lone Survivor makes the Top Ten as well. NBR gets my stamp of approval this year.

  • lalecture

    Her looks amazing. I just wonder if the Academy will find it favorable. They have not had much love for Phoenix in the past. If I remember correctly he has been nominated. But didn't he sort of diss the oscars at one point?