Which National Board of Review winners are likely to repeat at Oscars?

Two days after being acclaimed by the New York Film Critics Circle, “Zero Dark Thirty” won Best Picture and Director (Kathryn Bigelow) from the National Board of Review as well. And star Jessica Chastain won Best Actress from this New York-based awards group. 

The NBR also surprised with some of their picks, including Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook“) for Best Actor and Ann Dowd (“Compliance“) for Best Supporting Actress.  

Below, a category-by-category breakdown of this second batch of precursor prizes:

BEST PICTURE: “Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty” collects its second Best Picture prize after winning at NYFCC on Monday, officially making it the critics’ darling.

Since the group was formed in 1932, 20 of the NBR winners have repeated at the Oscars: “It Happened One Night” (1934), “On the Waterfront” (1954), “Marty” (1955), “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956), “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957), “Tom Jones” (1963), “A Man for All Seasons” (1966), “Patton” (1970), “The Sting” (1973), “Ordinary People” (1980), “Chariots of Fire” (1981), “Gandhi” (1982), “Terms of Endearment” (1983), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “Dances with Wolves” (1990), “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), “Schindler’s List” (1993), “Forrest Gump” (1994), “American Beauty” (1999), and “No Country for Old Men” (2007).

RELATED: “Zero Dark Thirty” sweeps NBR Awards

RELATED: Complete list of winners

Yet a staggering 21 films selected as Best Picture from NBR weren’t even nominated for the Oscar: “Topaze” (1932), “Night Must Fall” (1937), “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” (1939), “None But the Lonely Heart” (1944), “The True Glory” (1945), “Monsieur Verdoux” (1947), “Paisan” (1948), “Bicycle Thieves” (1949), “The Old Man and the Sea” (1958), “Question 7” (1961), “The Eleanor Roosevelt Story” (1965), “Far From the Madding Crowd” (1967), “The Shoes of the Fisherman” (1968), “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (1969), “Macbeth” (1971), “Days of Heaven” (1978), “Manhattan” (1979), “Betrayal” (tied with “Terms of Endearment,” 1983), “Empire of the Sun” (1987), “Gods and Monsters” (1998), and “Quills” (2000).

What does this say for “Zero Dark Thirty’s” chances at the Oscars? It’ll certainly be nominated, but as was the case with “The Social Network” (2010), Academy voters may not reward a cold, brainy film when they’re offered more emotional fare.

TOP 10: “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” “Looper,” “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Promised Land,” “Silver Linings Playbook
Last year, five out of the 10 films selected by NBR — “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “Hugo,” “The Tree of Life,” and “War Horse” — were nominated for Best Picture. Of this year’s 10 NBR picks, the most likely Oscar nominees are “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” as well as winner “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Shut out were “Life of Pi,” “The Master,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” and “Flight,” while “Moonrise Kingdom” made the list of Top 10 Independent Films. Often times an eventual Best Picture nominee or two is left off the NBR list, so don’t strike those films from your predictions just yet.

BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”
If the NYFCC win wasn’t enough, Bigelow is now a surefire Best Director nominee. Having won so recently for a similar film, it’s too soon to call Bigelow the front-runner, but if she continues to win critics awards, she may soon take that spot.

BEST ACTOR: Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Cooper enters the Best Actor race in a big way. In the past decade, only twice has the Best Actor winner at NBR not been nominated by Oscar — Clint Eastwood (“Gran Torino”) and Campbell Scott (“Roger Dodger”). If Cooper cracks the top five, who will he knock out? Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”) and Hugh Jackman (“Les Miserables”) look like locks, while Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”), Denzel Washington (“Flight”) and John Hawkes (“The Sessions”) may be losing momentum.

BEST ACTRESS: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Chastain picks up her first award of the season, besting Jennifer Lawrence from “Silver Linings Playbook.” Lawrence needs to win something soon in order to regain her front-runner status.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Django Unchained”
DiCaprio is one of Hollywood’s favorite unrewarded stars, so if he continues to pick up precursor awards, look for him to become the new front-runner. He faces competition within his own film from both Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz (who’s being campaigned in lead but could nevertheless find himself in the featured category).

Dowd enters the race as a dark horse contender in a field that includes several A-listers in more high-profile films. Yet like Jackie Weaver (“Animal Kingdom”) before her, a win from NBR puts Dowd in the conversation.

The Original Screenplay race has its first victor in “Looper.” NBR usually goes with an out-of-left-field choice in this category, and the last two winners — “50/50” (2011) and “Buried” (2010) — weren’t even nominated by the Oscars. The violent sci-fi thriller isn’t the sort of thing Academy voters usually go for, but stranger things have happened.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Russell threatens Tony Kushner in the Adapted Screenplay race. Both “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Lincoln” are strong Best Picture contenders, and both Russell and Kushner are overdue for Oscars. Look for the two to go neck-and-neck throughout the season.

Another award for Michael Haneke’s film, though will it win the Oscar? It’s quite a downer, even by Haneke’s standards.

Another blow for Pixar as “Wreck-It Ralph” picks up the Best Animated Feature award, threatening “Frankenweenie’s” front-runner status.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: “Searching for Sugar Man
This film made the Academy’s shortlist, so a nomination is a safe bet. A few more precursor wins and it’ll take the lead.

BEST ENSEMBLE: “Les Miserables
Although there is no Best Ensemble award at the Oscars, a win for “Les Miserables” in this category is a strong indication at the films chances with SAG.

BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR: Tom Holland, “The Impossible
It’s unlikely that Holland will crack a crowded Best Actor field, but this award at least brings attention to the film.

BREAKTHROUGH ACTRESS: Quvenzhane Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild
Wallis is the best chance at a nomination “Beasts of the Southern Wild” has. This award helps solidify her standing in the race.

BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT: Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
After its debut in Sundance, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” looked like a sure bet for a Best Picture nomination. The critics groups can help bring it back if Benh Zeitlin continues winning Debut Director awards.

Goodman has been on the outside looking in during this years Oscar race, with strong performances in “Argo” and “Flight.” This award boosts his chances of gaining momentum in a crowded Best Supporting Actor field.  


7 thoughts on “Which National Board of Review winners are likely to repeat at Oscars?

  1. I don’t read too much into film critic awards. For example I think the actors guilds will lean towards Lawrence. I thought Weisz’s win with the NYC critics was really an attempt to prevent Lawrence from winning an award rather than a vote for Weisz.(It just smells, especially with how the ballots were going). ZDT is pure Oscar bait; a strong screenplay with the requisite serious subject. SLP amounted to transcending the source material.
    Bottom line is that Lawrence is the more naturally talented actor despite being 15 years younger and in terms of raw ability she puts on the more impressive performance, something Chastain doesnt have the talent to pull off, not now and certainly not when she was 21. Once the Academy members and acting guilds start voting and not the critics, I have a feeling the priorities may be different. But who can predict?

  2. I can’t help but feel that Jennifer Lawrence is purposely being shut out (so far, at least) of course, the guild awards are coming up and I can’t imagine Harvey would not campaign agressively on her behalf. As much as I enjoyed Cooper’s performance in SLP, he wins an award BEFORE Jennifer Lawrence????…I’m sorry, but Lawrence acted rings around Cooper (just ask the 100 or so critics who wrote as much in their reviews). Well, we shall see in the coming weeks I suppose but still, even if Lawrence loses out to Chastain (and I agree with Lilly, Lawrence is the more talented actress) it would still be a second nomination in only a couple of years for the 22 year old Jennifer Lawrence….what other actress has accomplished as much?.

  3. I haven’s seen the performance but I think this award makes DiCaprio the front runner…mostly because it would be his fourth nomination and almost everybody else even being mentioned for Supporting Actor has already won.

  4. “Lawrence needs to win something soon in order to regain her front-runner status.” But… SHE DOES! The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) announced they are awarding Jennifer Lawrence their award for Outstanding Performer of the Year.
    According to the Hollywood Reporter , Lawrence, 22, will be honored for her performances in the hit first movie of the Hunger Games franchise and her recently released film, Silver Linings Playbook.

  5. Well, although I really like Jennifer Lawrence, i must admit it’s not primarly because of her ”unbelievable” talent, it has to do with her presence onscreen and her charisma. Jessica Chastain, on the other hand, is actress who blown me away with her versatility, and she keeps doing that. I think she is the best, and by far the most talented actress working today. Last year I said that she’s gonna be nominated almost every year for some performance in the future, and she will win several Oscars, it is very likely with her abbilities. So, with Lawrence, she stiil got to convince me in her acting chops. She is young, and I think she has bright future, but right now, Chastain deserved it more.

  6. I don’t think Lawrence is in trouble. NBR’s last 2 best actress picks didn’t even get Oscar nominations. I do think a veteran like Riva might win it all. Jennifer Lawrence is my favorite young actress but I don’t want her to win just yet. I think she has a Black Swan type of performance or better in her future. Whatever happens Lawrence will make history with 2 Oscar nods before the age of 25.

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