New York: 'Manchester by the Sea' was named best film by the National Board of Review, which lavished four awards on Kenneth Lonergan's New England portrait of grief.
In the awards announced Tuesday, "Manchester by the Sea" also took best actor for Casey Affleck's lead performance, best screenplay for Lonergan's script and best male breakthrough performance for Lucas Hedges.
"Moonlight," the coming-of-age drama that cleaned up at Monday's Gotham Independent Film Awards , was awarded best director for Barry Jenkins, and best supporting actress for Naomie Harris.
Amy Adams won best actress for her turn in the cerebral sci-fi thriller "Arrival." Best supporting actor went to Jeff Bridges for his retiring sheriff in "Hell or High Water."
The not-yet-released "Hidden Figures," about black mathematicians at NASA in the 1960s, was honoured for its ensemble. It stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe and Kevin Spacey.
The National Board of Review, a collection of film enthusiasts and academics founded in 1909, is one of the country's oldest such groups. Without significant ties to the movie industry, their awards -- known for spreading around the love to attract a room-full of celebrities -- hold little influence on Hollywood's awards season. But they're a regular stop on the road to the Academy Awards. The NBR awards will be handed out in a Jan. 4 gala hosted by Willie Geist.
But the strong showing for "Manchester by the Sea" certainly doesn't hurt its awards chances. Affleck, who also won best actor at the Gothams, is looking like a particularly formidable Oscar contender.
"Manchester by the Sea" is seen as a favourite this year, in a field also crowded by "La La Land," "Moonlight" and Denzel Washington's upcoming "Fences." Later this week, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will ring in with their picks.
Recent NBR top winners have been somewhat eccentric. "Mad Max: Fury Road," "A Most Violent Year" and "Her" were named best feature the last three years.
Other awards announced Tuesday included "O.J.: Made in America" for best documentary, Asghar Farhadi's "The Salesman" for best foreign-language film and "Kubo and the Two Strings" for best animated film.