A Most Violent Year and Lego Movie win National Board of Review awards in run-up to Oscars

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller received the best original screenplay award from the National Board of Review for their film The Lego Movie. -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE  
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller received the best original screenplay award from the National Board of Review for their film The Lego Movie. -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE  
Actors Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on Nov 6, 2014. Isaac won The National Board of Review award for best actor and Chastain for best supporting actress for the film A Most Violent Year, a drama about
Actors Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on Nov 6, 2014. Isaac won The National Board of Review award for best actor and Chastain for best supporting actress for the film A Most Violent Year, a drama about a man fighting to protect his business in early 1980s New York City. -- PHOTO: AFP

New York (Reuters) - The National Board of Review on Tuesday awarded A Most Violent Year, a drama about a man fighting to protect his business in early 1980s New York City, prizes for best film, actor and supporting actress in the second major film awards in the run-up to the Oscars.

The star of the film, Oscar Isaac, shared the best acting prize with Michael Keaton, who portrayed a has-been actor in Birdman. Jessica Chastain nabbed the supporting actress prize for playing Isaac's wife. "The film is an exhilarating crime drama," Annie Schulhof, president of the NBR, said about A Most Violent Year. "It is a compelling story that has outstanding performances and it is visually stunning," she added.

Clint Eastwood was named best director for American Sniper, about a Navy Seal played by Bradley Cooper.

Julianne Moore won the top actress award for her portrayal of a 50-year-old woman with early-onset Alzheimer's disease in Still Alice. "Her performance is breathtaking and so nuanced and heartbreaking. She is one of our most consummate actresses," Schulhof said of Moore.

Edward Norton picked up the best supporting actor prize for his role in Birdman.

The NBR, a United States-based group of movie industry watchers and film professionals, will present the awards in New York on Jan 6.

The prizes pit A Most Violent Year against the coming-of-age film Boyhood, which won three New York Film Critics Circle prizes - best film, director and supporting actress - on Monday as leading contenders ahead of the Academy Awards on Feb 22.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller received the best original screenplay award from the NBR for their film The Lego Movie, and Paul Thomas Anderson earned the best adapted screenplay for Inherent Vice. How To Train Your Dragon 2 was named best animated feature, while Wild Tales, directed by Argentine Damian Szifron, won the top foreign language film prize.

The NBR awarded the best documentary to Life Itself, about film critic Roger Ebert, and gave Jack O'Connell, who appeared in Starred Up and Unbroken, its breakthrough performance award.

Gillian Robespierre won the best directorial debut prize for the romantic comedy Obvious Child and the World War II film Fury, starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf, picked up the best ensemble award.

Comedian Chris Rock, who wrote, directed and starred in the film Top Five, won the NBR's spotlight award.