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National Board of Review President Explains Its ‘Quirky’ Choices

On Tuesday afternoon, the National Board of Review selected J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year” as the best film of the year.

It was an unexpected decision from the organization of 126 New York film fans, who cast their ballots through email or fax, and also nameded Oscar Isaac (“A Most Violent Year”) and Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) for lead actor; Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) as lead actress; Edward Norton (“Birdman”) as supporting actor; Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”) as supporting actress; and Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper”) for director.

“We’re quirky and we have a different take,” said the organization’s president Annie Schulhof in a phone call with Variety shortly after the announcement.

“This is what the group felt is the best movie,” she explained. “J.C. Chandor several years ago was our directorial debut for ‘Margin Call.’ It’s got a compelling story. It’s got an elegant cinematic style.”

As awards season continues to get more competitive, early prizes like the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review play an important role in helping Oscar voters decide which of their screeners to watch next.

But Schulhof doesn’t think the National Board of Review’s picks necessarily shape the Oscar race.

“I think what we can do is push a film out and push a performance out, because we announce early,” she said. “When you have a movie like ‘A Most Violent Year,’ we put the spotlight on it. I don’t see us as a bellwether. I see us as giving rise to other films and performance that may not be in the mix right now.”

The National Board of Review dinner will be held on Jan. 6 in New York.

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