A Most Violent Year Is A Most Unexpected National Board Of Review Winner!


A Most Violent Year

The National Board of Review has spoken!  They named their picks for the best of 2014 earlier today and — to the shock of many (especially me) — they picked JC Chandor’s crime drama A Most Violent Year as the best film of the year!

I love surprises!

Now, a lot of us were expecting A Most Violent Year to be an Oscar contender, with practically everyone expecting Jessica Chastain to either be nominated for best actress or supporting actress.  (The NBR named her best supporting actress.)  But I think a lot of us were expecting to see the NBR select Boyhood, Birdman, or maybe Selma.

Also of note is that Clint Eastwood won best director for American Sniper, which appears to be coming on strong as a potential Oscar nominee as well.

(Also of note: Foxcatcher was totally ignored by the NBR.)

Here are the NBR winners!

BEST PICTURE
“A Most Violent Year”

BEST DIRECTOR
Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper”

BEST ACTOR (TIE)
Oscar Isaac, “A Most Violent Year”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

BEST ACTRESS
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Edward Norton, “Birdman”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, “The Lego Movie”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”

BEST ENSEMBLE
“Fury”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM 
“Wild Tales”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“Life Itself”

SPOTLIGHT AWARD
Chris Rock for writing, directing, and starring in “Top Five”

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCES
Jack O’Connell, “Starred Up” and “Unbroken”

DEBUT DIRECTOR
Gillian Robespierre, “Obvious Child”

WILLIAM K. EVERSON FILM HISTORY AWARD
Scott Eyman

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
“Rosewater”
“Selma”

BEST PICTURE NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“Fury”
“Gone Girl”
“The Imitation Game”
“Inherent Vice”
“The Lego Movie”
“Nightcrawler”
“Unbroken”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“Force Majeure”
“Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem”
“Leviathan”
“Two Days One Night”
“We Are the Best!”

BEST DOCUMENTARY NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“Art and Craft”
“Jodorowsky’s Dune”
“Keep On Keepin’ On”
“The Kill Team”
“Last Days in Vietnam”

BEST INDEPENDENT FILMS (alphabetical)
“Blue Ruin”
“Locke”
“A Most Wanted Man”
“Mr. Turner”
“Obvious Child”
“The Skeleton Twins”,
“Snowpiercer”,
“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”
“Starred Up”
“Still Alice”

Film Review: All Is Lost (dir by JC Chandor)


I have to admit that when I first heard the plot of All Is Lost, I was skeptical.

Essentially, the film is 100 minutes of Robert Redford (playing a nameless sailor) floating out in the middle of the ocean and trying not to die.  Beyond delivering some deliberately ambiguous narration at the beginning of the film and then shouting at some profanity about halfway through the film, Redford’s performance is almost entirely silent.  We’re never really sure why Redford was out in the ocean in the first place, though there are hints to be found by those who are willing to take the time to track down the small details.  Myself, I know nothing about sailing and, considering how utterly terrified I am of drowning, I doubt that I ever will.  As such, I spent most of the film not having the slightest idea what Redford was doing or why he was doing it.

(To just give one example of my lack of nautical knowledge, I was stunned to discover, while watching All Is Lost, that a boat can be flooded with water without automatically sinking to the bottom of the ocean.)

So, I really should have hated All Is Lost.

But I didn’t.

I have to admit that it took me a while to get into the film.  There were a few times when I thought the movie was going to lose me.  But every time that I thought I was going to zone out on the film, Robert Redford snapped me back.  Redford brings such a sense of immediacy to his role that you can’t help but watch him even if, like me, you’re not always sure what he’s doing.

If not for the all of the Oscar talk being generated by Redford’s performance, I probably would not have seen All Is Lost.

But I’m glad that I did.