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The two were named as honorees in the 2021 NBR Awards announced on Thursday. Paul Thomas Anderson was also named best director for Licorice Pizza, with his film also taking the prize for best film.
Smith, 53, stars as Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in the biopic King Richard, now in theaters and on HBO Max.
Zegler, 20, makes her film debut in Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of West Side Story as Maria, which hits theaters Dec. 10.
Anderson's Licorice Pizza tells the story of a boy and girl growing up in the San Fernando Valley of California who fall in love in the 1970s. The movie stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie, Sean Penn and Maya Rudolph.
In a statement, NBR president Annie Schulhof said, "In a moment of transition and uncertainty, there is nothing like Licorice Pizza to remind us of the joy, hope and exhilaration that great cinema can inspire. The NBR is honored to award the movie as its Best Film of 2021, as well as its brilliant creator, Paul Thomas Anderson, and all of our other awardees."
The honorees will be celebrated at the NBR Awards Gala hosted by Willie Geist on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
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See below for the full list of 2021 award recipients.
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
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Last year, the NBR named Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods as the best film of the year and Lee as best director. Riz Ahmed won for best actor for his performance in Sound of Metal while Carey Mulligan won best actress for Promising Young Woman.
Chadwick Boseman was posthumously given the NBR Icon Award.