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Manchester by the Sea big winner in National Board of Review awards

Manchester by the Sea has been named best film by the National Board of Review, which lavished four awards on Kenneth Lonergan’s New England portrait of grief.

In awards announced Tuesday by the National Board of Review, Manchester by the Sea also took best actor for Casey Affleck’s lead performance, best screenplay for Lonergan’s script and best supporting actor for the breakout performance by Lucas Hedges.

Moonlight, the coming-of-age drama that cleaned up at Monday’s Gotham Independent Film Awards, was awarded best director for Barry Jenkins, and best supporting actress for Naomie Harris.

Amy Adams won best actress for her turn in the cerebral sci-fi thriller Arrival, helmed by acclaimed Canadian director Denis Villeneuve.

Best supporting actor went to Jeff Bridges for his retiring sheriff in Hell or High Water.

The not-yet-released Hidden Figures, about black mathematicians at NASA in the 1960s, was honored for its ensemble. It stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe and Kevin Spacey.

Amy Adams-Renner

Amy Adams, left, seen with Arrival co-star Jeremy Renner on Nov. 6 in Los Angeles, was named best actress by the National Board of Review. (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

The National Board of Review, a collection of film enthusiasts and academics founded in 1909, is one of the country’s oldest such groups. Without significant ties to the movie industry, their awards — known for spreading around the love to attract a room-full of celebrities — hold little influence on Hollywood’s awards season. But they’re a regular stop on the road to the Academy Awards.

NBR not a recent Oscar predictor

But the strong showing for Manchester by the Sea certainly doesn’t hurt its awards chances. Affleck, who also won best actor at the Gothams, is looking like a particularly formidable Oscar contender.

Manchester by the Sea is seen as a favourite this year, in a field also crowded by La La Land, Moonlight and Denzel Washington’s upcoming Fences. Later this week, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will ring in with their picks.

Recent NBR top winners have been somewhat eccentric. Mad Max: Fury Road, A Most Violent Year and Her were named best feature the last three years, none of which prevailed in the best picture categories at either the Academy Awards or Golden Globes.

Other awards announced Tuesday included O.J.: Made in America for best documentary, Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman for best foreign-language film and Kubo and the Two Strings for best animated film.

The NBR awards will be handed out in a Jan. 4 gala.

CBC | Arts News