‘Moonlight’ Named Best Movie of 2016 by National Society of Film Critics

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It’s only logical: after cleaning up across the board with city-specific critics’ groups far and wide (ceding the occasional prize to La La Land, its closest awards-season competitor), Moonlight was awarded the distinction of 2016’s finest film from the National Society of Film Critics. In a decision stunning exactly nobody, Barry Jenkins’ heartfelt triptych about a young gay man’s coming-of-age in Miami took the Best Picture prize as well as the Best Director for Jenkins. Left in the runners-up column were all-but-certain Oscar nominees La La Land and Manchester by the Sea. In fact, Damien Chazelle’s crowd-pleasing musical got kind of skunked by the NSFC; Chazelle landed the runner-up Best Director spot behind Jenkins, the film shared the runner-up spot for Best Cinematography with Silence, and star Emma Stone was shut out entirely.

The Best Actress distinctions instead went to French treasure Isabelle Huppert in recognition of her work on both Paul Verhoeven’s kinky thriller Elle and Mia Hansen-Løve’s character study Things to Come. (The NSFC appears to have forgotten about Huppert’s third phenomenal performance this year, in Joachim Trier’s family drama Louder Than Bombs.) The remained of the acting commendations went about as expected: Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams took Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, for two halves of one guilt-choked couple in Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali claimed his latest in a long string of Best Supporting Actor prizes. The runner-up spaces were a little more surprising — Certain Women’s Lily Gladstone, Toni Erdmann’s Sandra Hüller and Paterson’s Adam Driver all took second place.

The full list is below, a sort of more discerning warm-up for the boozy blowout of the Golden Globes this evening. Give it a look:

Best Picture: Moonlight
Runners-up: Manchester by the Sea, La La Land

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Runners-up: Denzel Washington, Fences; Adam Driver, Paterson

Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle and Things to Come
Runners-up: Annette Bening, 20th Century Women; Sandra Hüller, Toni Erdmann

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Runners-up: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water; Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Runners-up: Lily Gladstone, Certain Women; Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Runners-up: Damien Chazelle, La La Land; Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Best Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Runners-up: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight; Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Best Cinematography:  James Laxton, Moonlight
Runners-up: Linus Sandgren, La La Land; Rodrigo Prieto, Silence

Best Foreign Film: Toni Erdmann
Runners-up: The Handmaiden, Elle and Things to Come

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