National Board Of Review Calls 'Hugo' Best Film Of 2011

And just like that, Martin Scorsese's Hugo became an Oscar contender. While I like the movie a good bit, primarily for very specific elements, I didn't really expect to see Hugo turning into something that would be an awards-season player. But the National Board of Review disagrees, and today the board named Hugo the best film of 2011 and Martin Scorsese best director. Check out the NBR's full evaluation of 2011 below.

Board president Annie Schulhof said in a statement,

Hugo is such a personal film by Martin Scorsese. It is a tribute to the early years of cinema that uses today's cutting-edge technology to bring the audience into a completely unique and magical world. It is visually stunning and emotionally engaging.

I'm pretty surprised to see Margin Call director J.C. Chandor get the nod for debut director. (I would have gone with Martha Marcy May Marlene's Sean Durkin.) I'm very happy to see Christopher Plummer get the best supporting actor recognition. Sure, the Oscar campaign for Andy Serkis in that category is great, but Plummer was just devastating and wonderful in Beginners. Likewise, I'm happy to see some recognition for 13 Assassins. The 'top independent films' lineup is a bit suspect, however, just because I think the NBR's definition of 'independent' is a bit more loose than mine.

And the NBR continues a love affair with Clint Eastwood, calling the thoroughly mediocre J. Edgar one of the year's best.

Best Film: Hugo

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Best Original Screenplay: Will Reiser, 50/50

Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants

Best Animated Feature: Rango

Breakthrough Performance: Felicity Jones, Like Crazy

Breakthrough Performance: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Debut Director: J.C. Chandor, Margin Call

Best Ensemble: The Help

Spotlight Award: Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class)

NBR Freedom of Expression: Crime After Crime

NBR Freedom of Expression: Pariah

Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation

Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Special Achievement in Filmmaking: The Harry Potter Franchise – A Distinguished Translation from Book to Film

Top Films (in alphabetical order): The Artist, The Descendants, Drive, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Ides of March, J. Edgar, Tree of Life, War Horse

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in Alphabetical Order): 13 Assassins, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, Footnote, Le Havre, Point Blank

Top 5 Documentaries (in Alphabetical Order): Born to be Wild, Buck, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Project Nim, Senna

Top 10 Independent Films (in Alphabetical Order): 50/50, Another Earth, Beginners, A Better Life, Cedar Rapids, Margin Call, Shame, Take Shelter, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Win Win