Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Licorice Pizza’ Wins Best Film, Director From National Board of Review (Updated)

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12/23 Update: The National Board of Review Gala, originally set for Jan. 11, has been postponed to a later date following the latest COVID surge.

“Out of an abundance of caution and for the health and safety of our guests, members and community, we have made the decision to postpone the NBR’s annual Awards Gala,” NBR president Annie Schulhof said in a statement Dec. 23. ” We look forward to celebrating this year’s honorees, safely, at a later time.”

The article below was first published on Dec. 2.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” has dominated the National Board of Review awards, winning Best Film and Best Director for Anderson.

The film’s cast, including Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim, were also recognized jointly for Breakthrough Performance. “Licorice Pizza” is set in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s and follows an aspiring actress (Haim) trying to find roles as she crosses the path of a teenager named Gary (Hoffman) who has a crush on her.

Other films recognized by the NBR include “King Richard,” which earned Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress for Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis for their performances as Serena and Venus Williams’ parents Richard Williams and Oracene Price. Newcomer Rachel Zegler won Best Actress for her performance as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” while Ciaran Hinds won Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a cancer-stricken grandfather in “Belfast.”

In the screenplay categories, Asghar Farhadi won Best Original Screenplay for his latest film “A Hero,” as well as Best Foreign Language film. Joel Coen won Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Disney’s “Encanto” won Best Animated Feature while Questlove’s “Summer Of Soul” won Best Documentary.

But several films considered Oscar contenders were omitted from the list, including Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” Pablo Larrain’s “Spencer,” and Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci.” Films that did make the NBR’s top 10 films include Guillermo Del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up,” Sean Baker’s “Red Rocket” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune.”

Though it is often lumped in with critics awards, the National Board of Review is a New York-based organization made up of what it describes as “film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals and academics of various ages and backgrounds.” In its first 76 years, its winning film went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture 24 times, though the two groups have agreed only three times in this century.

The National Board of Review will hold a gala ceremony for the award honorees on January 11, 2022.

View the full list of winners below:

Best Film:  LICORICE PIZZA

Best Director:  Paul Thomas Anderson, LICORICE PIZZA

Best Actor:  Will Smith, KING RICHARD

Best Actress: Rachel Zegler, WEST SIDE STORY

Best Supporting Actor: Ciarán Hinds, BELFAST

Best Supporting Actress:  Aunjanue Ellis, KING RICHARD

Best Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, A HERO

Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel Coen, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH

Breakthrough Performance: Alana Haim & Cooper Hoffman, LICORICE PIZZA

Best Directorial Debut:  Michael Sarnoski, PIG  

Best Animated Feature:  ENCANTO

Best Foreign Language Film: A HERO

Best Documentary: SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) 

Best Ensemble: THE HARDER THEY FALL 

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH

NBR Freedom of Expression Award:  FLEE

Top Films (in alphabetical order)
Belfast
Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
The Last Duel   
Nightmare Alley
Red Rocket
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
Benedetta
Lamb
Lingui, The Sacred Bonds  
Titane
The Worst Person in the World

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)
Ascension
Attica
Flee
The Rescue
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)
The Card Counter
C’mon C’mon  
CODA
The Green Knight
Holler
Jockey
Old Henry
Pig
Shiva Baby
The Souvenir Part II

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