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‘A Most Violent Year,’ ‘Life Itself’ win top prizes from critics’ board

By Donna Freydkin/Gannett News Service

A day after the New York Film Critics named “Boyhood” the best film of 2014, the movie was shut out in another group’s awards.

Tuesday’s addition to the feverish Academy Awards race: the selections of the National Board of Review. It gave its best-picture blessing to Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac’s “A Most Violent Year,” scheduled to open Jan. 16 in Chicago.

“Life Itself,” the documentary on the life and career of the late Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert was named best documentary of 2014.

The board’s other winners:

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper”

Best Actor: Oscar Isaac, “A Most Violent Year”; Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton, “Birdman”

Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”

The group is known for its love of Clint Eastwood, and its boozy January gala, where stars can let loose (and deliver very long speeches) since the winners are announced so far ahead of time. Last year, Meryl Streep bashed Disney for what she said was its airbrushing of Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks,” for example, something that made headlines far and wide. This year, the party is on Jan. 6 in New York.