Her film

Best Film: Her
Best Director: Spike Jonze- Her
Her, Spike Jonze’s futuristic techy-romance, storms out of nowhere and takes the top two awards at a critics group that is historically conservative in their picks.  The award is a big boost for the film especially considering that the NBR Best Picture winner has not missed out on the Oscar shortlist since 2000’s Quills.  The film could do well in the coming weeks, most notably at this weekend’s session with the Los Angeles critics.

Best Actor: Bruce Dern- Nebraska
I’m very happy that Dern is hitting some of the critics awards early before a Redford sweep starts to evolve.  Hopefully this race will remain a competition.

Best Actress: Emma Thompson- Saving Mr. Banks
Emma Thompson also prevents Blanchett from starting her own sweep- one that I would not be totally against- by winning her first award of the year.  I haven’t seen Thompson in this yet, but I get the feeling that it’ll be a fun role and I think she is Blanchett’s main competition.

Best Supporting Actor: Will Forte- Nebraska
The NBR has a habit of awarding an actor who was not previously considered a contender in the race.  Amy Ryan for 2007’s Gone Baby Gone and Woody Harrelson for 2009’s The Messenger are examples of the NBR kickstarting an actor on their road to a nomination.  Sometimes, however, we are then deceived into thinking their choice really is a contender and we incorrectly predict a contender like Matthew McConaughey in last year’s Magic Mike.  What’s Forte gonna be this season?

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer- Fruitvale Station
She definitely needed this boost and I think she has a very strong change now that we know she’s still on the critical map.  A few more awards like this and I think we could lock her up for a nomination, which will probably be the only one for Fruitvale at the Oscars.

Best Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen- Inside Llewyn Davis
Best Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter- The Wolf of Wall Street
The screenplay categories were dominated by well known writers of both film and television.  The NBR gave the original screenplay prize to the Brothers Coen for their  Greenwich Village folk film and adapted screenplay to Boardwalk Empire and Sopranos writer/producer Terence Winter for the balls-to-the-wall Wall Street comedy.  While both films have a chance to enter the screenplay race at the Oscars, the NBR is not the most reliable source in this category.

Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises
Miyazaki’s film takes it’s second Animated film prize of the season and it is one of the only crossovers from yesterday’s NYFCC awards. Maybe the Oscars will also choose the Japanese anime master’s last film over the Disney musical Frozen?

Breakthrough Performance: Michael B. Jordan- Fruitvale Station
Breakthrough Performance: Adele Exarchopoulos- Blue is the Warmest Color
Best Directorial Debut: Ryan Coogler- Fruitvale Station
These three awards are probably going to be copied and pasted for the rest of the critic portion of this season. I have not seen the French film yet, but I would love if Brie Larson could rack up a few more awards this season for the brilliant and subtle Short Term 12.

Best Ensemble: Prisoners
I still think that American Hustle will be the major contender in this category throughout the critics stage.  Outside of a few small hits throughout the season, I don’t think Prisoners will make much of an impact on the race overall.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Past
One step at a time.  While the NBR stepped out of their comfort zone by rewarding Her, they were not ready to acknowledge the erotic French lesbian drama outside of the Breakthrough Actress award.

Best Documentary: Stories We Tell
Sarah Polley wins again for the personal documentary about her family and the film now has to be seen as a major player in the Documentary race. We know they already liked her well enough to nominate her in the totally stacked Adapted Screenplay category in 2007 for Away From Her.

William K. Everson Film History Award: George Stevens, Jr.
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
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor
Saving Mr. Banks
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Wolf of Wall Street

Every year, the NBR opts to list a few bizarre choices in their Top Ten list that will have their Oscar season begin and end that day.  This year we say hello and goodbye to Lone Survivor and The Secret Life of Mitty (with the exception of a few potential technical noms, that is).  We did a double take once we saw the lack of love for yesterday’s big winner American Hustle and a film that seemingly would be right up their alley, Captain Phillips.  Other than a surprising, but deserving showing for Prisoners and Fruitvale Station showing up here and not in the Top Ten indie films, everything else was normal.

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
Beyond the Hills
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
The Place Beyond the Pines
Short Term 12
The Spectacular Now

Very happy for Short Term 12 and for them remembering The Place Beyond the Pines from the beginning of the year.  I cannot understand the love that The Spectacular Now has gotten from bloggers and critics groups alike.  The relationship between the two leads felt fabricated and the film needed an actor who could carry the film since Sutter is in almost every scene.  I would have much rather seen the over-hip, but much more realistic and funny Frances Ha show up here.