'A Most Violent Year' named best picture by National Board of Review

'A Most Violent Year' is named best film of the year by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures

"A Most Violent Year," J.C. Chandor's crime drama set in New York City in 1981, was named best picture of 2014 Tuesday by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Oscar Isaac received one of two best actor honors for his performance as an ambitious immigrant in the film and Jessica Chastain was named best supporting actress for her role as his wife.

"'A Most Violent Year' is an exhilarating crime drama with a compelling story, outstanding performances and an elegant cinematic style," said NBR President Annie Schulhof in a statement Tuesday.

Best director honors went to Clint Eastwood for his biographical war drama "American Sniper." Michael Keaton shared the best actor award for his performance as a washed-up movie superhero seeking redemption in the dark comedy-drama "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)."

Julianne Moore was named best actress as a woman with early onset Alzheimer's in "Still Alice" and Edward Norton received supporting actor honors as an egotistical stage actor in "Birdman."

Best breakthrough performance went to Jack O'Connell for his portrayal of World War II hero Louis Zamperini in "Unbroken." Gillian Robespierre received the best directorial debut award for the romantic comedy "Obvious Child."

Best ensemble went to the World War II action-drama "Fury."

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller won the original screenplay award for the satirical animated film "The Lego Movie," and Paul Thomas Anderson received adapted screenplay honors for "Inherent Vice," based on the Thomas Pynchon novel.

"How to Train Your Dragon 2" won for animated film and "Life Itself," about the late Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert, received best documentary.

The Argentine black comedy-drama "Wild Tales" won for foreign language film.

Other awards handed out Tuesday:

William K. Everson Film History Award: Scott Eyman

Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing, directing and starring in "Take Five."

NBR Freedom of Expression Award:  "Rosewater" and "Selma."

Though it made the NBR's Top 10 films of 2014 list, Richard Linklater's lauded "Boyhood," which was named best film Monday by the New York Film Critics Circle, failed to receive any honors Tuesday.

Founded in 1909, the National Board of Review is made up of film enthusiasts, professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students.

Last year, the NBR chose Spike Jonze's "Her" as best of the year, while the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named "12 Years a Slave" as best of 2013. The last time the two groups agreed on a best picture winner was Danny Boyle's 2008 "Slumdog Millionaire."

The awards will be presented Jan. 6 at the Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

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