National Board of Review Names ‘Manchester by the Sea’ the Best Film of 2016

     November 29, 2016


And we’re off! The fall film festival circuit is over, precursor awards have begun (hello, Gotham), and now it’s that time of awards season when the critics groups weigh in. National Board of Review is the first out of the gate with the ridiculously early November 29th announce date, and the group has given top honors to Manchester by the Sea. Filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan’s masterful grief drama also scored Best Actor for Casey Affleck, Breakthrough Performance (Male) for Lucas Hedges, and Best Original Screenplay for Lonergan. However, Best Director went to another major Oscar hopeful: Barry Jenkins for Moonlight. After sweeping the Gotham Awards earlier today, the coming-of-age drama also won the National Board of Review’s Best Supporting Actress for Naomie Harris, marking a bit of a surprise in a category that many have pegged as sewn up by Viola Davis for Fences.

Indeed, the NBR made some curious choices all around. Amy Adams won Best Actress for Arrival over frontrunners Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Emma Stone (La La Land), and Jeff Bridges scored Best Supporting Actor for his terrific turn in the indie Hell or High Water.


Image via Paramount Pictures

With such an early deadline you may be wondering if the NBR voters even had time to see all of the films up for consideration. Silence just barely made the cut as Martin Scorsese completed the film weeks ago in time to screen for NBR, and as such his passion project scored the Best Adapted Screenplay award which goes to Scorsese himself and co-writer Jay Cocks. And yes, they saw Live by Night.

Missing the cut from NBR’s Top Films are Fences, Jackie, Lion, and Loving, but NBR has its quirks and usually picks a few left-field choices every year. As for how this relates to Oscar, last year’s NBR winner was Mad Max: Fury Road while 2014’s trophy went to A Most Violent Year, so it’s not much of a bellwether. It is, however, the starting gunshot for the critics groups, as Critics Choice Nominations and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards are both announced on December 1st. Here we go, folks!

Check out the full list of National Board of Review winners below.

Best Film:  Manchester by the Sea

Best Director:  Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor:  Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress: Amy Adams, Arrival

Best Supporting Actor: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Best Supporting Actress:  Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay:  Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence

Best Animated Feature:  Kubo and the Two Strings


Image via A24

Breakthrough Performance (Male): Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Breakthrough Performance (Female): Royalty Hightower, The Fits

Best Directorial Debut:  Trey Edward Shults, Krisha

Best Foreign Language Film:  The Salesman

Best Documentary:  O.J.: Made in America

Best Ensemble:  Hidden Figures

Spotlight Award: Creative Collaboration of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg

NBR Freedom of Expression Award:  Cameraperson

Top Films


Hacksaw Ridge

Hail, Caesar!

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land


Patriot’s Day




Image via Paramount Pictures

Top 5 Foreign Language Films


The Handmaiden


Land of Mine


Top 5 Documentaries

De Palma

The Eagle Huntress


Life, Animated

Miss Sharon Jones! 

Top 10 Independent Films

20th Century Women

Captain Fantastic

Creative Control

Eye in the Sky

The Fits

Green Room

Hello, My Name is Doris


Morris from America

Sing Street

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