The National Board of Review has named Spike Jonze’s Her as the best film of 2013. The announcement comes one day after the New York Film Critics declared David O. Russell’s American Hustle as the year’s best. Jonze’s film, which revolves around a bizarre yet tender relationship between a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) and his futuristic operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is a surprising pick for the NBR not only because the NBR tend to make very mainstream choices but also because Her is one of those understated gems that I never figured would go anyway during awards season. Its victory here may very well be its only win – but it’s better than nothing. The film also picked up an award for Jonze’s direction.
In the acting categories, screen veteran Bruce Dern was awarded the Best Actor prize for his terrific performance as senile elderly man in Alexander Payne’s bittersweet dramedy Nebraska while Emma Thompson took home Best Actress for her nuanced work in Saving Mr. Banks. In the supporting categories, Dern’s Nebraska co-star Will Forte was the Best Supporting Actor winner, and Octavia Spencer was awarded for her performance in Fruitvale Station. Breakthrough performance prizes were awarded to Adele Exarchopoulos for Blue is the Warmest Color and Michael B. Jordan for Fruitvale Station.
Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks and Fruitvale Station were all cited in the group’s Top 10 Films of the year too. The list was representative of the NBR’s typically eclectic (read: odd) mix of expected critical favorites (12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor and The Wolf of Wall Street), and once promising also-rans (Prisoners, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty). The latter two are both fine films but hardly top 10 material, especially in such a strong year.
The Wind Rises, which was named Best Animated Film yesterday by the New Yorkers, won that award again today with this group. Others that double-dipped included Fruitvale Station, which again won Best Directorial Debut, and Stories We Tell, which again won Best Documentary.
Full list of winners below:
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 (alphabetical)
Top 5 Foreign Language Films (alphabetical)
Beyond the Hills
Top 5 Documentaries (alphabetical)
20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
Top 10 Independent Films (alphabetical)
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
In a World…
Mother of George
Much Ado About Nothing
The Place Beyond the Pines
Short Term 12
The Spectacular Now
SOURCE: National Board of Review