My mind is reeling, my emotions are caterwauling, and my balance is fairly unsteady. And somewhere up above Sidney Lumet is definitely smiling. For J.C. Chandor‘s A Most Violent Year, a movie I’ve been championing all along but which few others have really gotten behind in a super-passionate way, has been named 2014’s Best Film by the National Board of Review…eureka! The NBR has been regarded as an oddball group for so many years that that it’s not worth getting into it, but they’re at least regarded more favorably than the Golden Globes or the Hollywood Film Awards, or so I would argue, and you have to at least give them credit showing some real balls here. They went with their own heads and their own hearts, and they totally ignored the conventional Gold Derby/Gurus of Gold prediction template.

Don’t kid yourself — these bozos are looking to get as many stars to attend their awards ceremony as possible (hence Fury winning the best Ensemble Award, which means Brad and possibly Angie might show up) but this is the kind of winners roster I can really get behind of the most part. No lazy choices (they could have thrown a bone to Unbroken but for whatever reason but they abstained), no dutiful, knee-jerk Boyhood defaults (although Richard Linklater‘s film winning the top prize would have gotten no argument from me), no James Gray cabal to contend with, etc.

I only wish they hadn’t given American Sniper‘s Clint Eastwood their Best Director prize because no one (and I mean no one) believes that Sniper is the cat’s meow. A decent film but nothing to do cartwheels over. A very odd NBR call.

An Ed McMahon “hiyoo!” to A Most Violent Year‘s Oscar Isaac for sharing the NBR’s Best Actor trophy with Birdman‘s Michael Keaton, and to Isaac’s costar Jessica Chastain for winning the Best Supporting Actress award. Congrats also to Best Actress winner Julianne Moore for her deeply felt performance in the stultifying Still Alice and — surprise! — Best Supporting Actor Edward Norton, whose Birdman performance was being seen as a likely loser to J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. On top of which Wild Tales, one of my favorites of the hear, was named Best Foreign Language Film. An attagirl to Obvious Child‘s Gillian Robespierre for winning the NBR’s Best Directorial Debut award. Rosewater and Selma won NBR’s Freedom of Expression awards. Steve JamesLife Itself was named Best Documentary.