The independent drama “Nomadland” has won four awards from the St. Louis Film Critics Association, including film, director, editing and cinematography.

After losing everything in the 2008 recession, middle-aged Fern (Frances McDormand) embarks on a journey through the American west in writer-director Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland.” Zhao also edited the film. Joshua James Richards earned Best Cinematography.

“Promising Young Woman,” writer-director Emerald Fennell’s social commentary thriller about toxic masculinity, was recognized for Carey Mulligan’s performance and Fennell’s original screenplay as well as soundtrack for a total of three awards.

Other multiple award winners included Pixar’s “Soul” for animated feature and music score by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” as best action film and visual effects; and “The Invisible Man” for best horror film and best scene in which the sisters meet to dine at a restaurant.

In acting honors, Chadwick Boseman was named Best Actor for his final performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Paul Raci of “Sound of Metal” and Youn Yuh-jung of “Minari” for supporting roles.

The Romanian film “Collective” won for documentary and the Danish film “Another Round” won for foreign language film.

The awards were announced on Sunday, Jan. 17, with nominations in 22 categories were announced Jan. 10.

Eligible films include those that opened in St. Louis during the 2020 calendar year or were made available as a video on demand or streaming service release.

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Here is a complete list of the awards:

BEST FILM: Nomadland
Runner-up (tie): “First Cow” and “Promising Young Woman”

BEST DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao – “Nomadland:
Runner-up: Emerald Fennell “Promising Young Woman”

BEST ACTOR: Chadwick Boseman – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Runner-up: Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods”

BEST ACTRESS: Carey Mulligan – “Promising Young Woman”
Runner-up: Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Paul Raci – “Sound of Metal”
Runner-up: Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Youn Yuh-jung – “Minari”
Runner-up: Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “Promising Young Woman” – Emerald Fennell
Runner-up: Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” – Charlie Kaufman (Screenplay); Iain Reid (Novel)

Runner-up: Kemp Powers (screenplay and play) “One Night in Miami”

BEST EDITING: “Nomadland” – Chloé Zhao

Runner-up: Robert Frazen, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “Nomadland” – Joshua James Richards

Runner-up: “Mank” – Erik Messerschmidt

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: “Mank” – Donald Graham Burt\

Runner-up: “Emma” – Kave Quinn

Runner-up: The Invisible Man

BEST SCORE: Soul – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste
Runner-up: Nomadland – Ludovico Einaudi

BEST SOUNDTRACK: Promising Young Woman
Runner-up: Hamilton

Runner-up: Birds of Prey

BEST COMEDY FILM: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Runner-up: Palm Springs

BEST HORROR FILM: The Invisible Man

Runner-up: Wolfwalkers


Runner-up: Beanpole

BEST SCENE: The Invisible Man – A restaurant meet-up between sisters is interrupted.
Runner-up: Rudy Guiliani visits hotel room in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

Here is a complete list of nominations:

First Cow
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
Spike Lee, “Da 5 Bloods”
Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
Gary Oldman, “Mank”

Jessie Buckley, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

Bo Burnham, “Promising Young Woman”
Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Bill Murray, “On the Rocks”
Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami”
Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”

Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Ellen Burstyn, “Pieces of a Woman”
Olivia Colman, “The Father”
Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
Yuh-jung Youn, “Minari”

Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
Jack Fincher, “Mank”
Andy Siara, “Palm Springs”
Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Charlie Kaufman, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Kemp Powers, “One Night in Miami”
Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow”
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”

Benjamin Kracun, “Promising Young Woman
Erik Messerschmidt, “Mank”
Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland”
Newton Thomas Sigel, “Da 5 Bloods”
Dariusz Wolski, “News of the World”

Alan Baumgarten, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Kirk Baxter, “Mank”
Robert Frazen, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Jonah Moran, “Hamilton”
Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”

Donald Graham Burt, “Mank”
Christina Casali, “The Personal History of David Copperfield”
Michael Perry, “Promising Young Woman”
Kave Quinn, “Emma”
Mark Ricker, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Birds of Prey
Da 5 Bloods
Lovers Rock
Promising Young Woman

Ludovico Einaudi, “Nomadland”
Ludwig Goransson, “Tenet”
James Newton Howard, “News of the World”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste, “Soul”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, “Mank”

Birds of Prey
The Invisible Man
The Midnight Sky

Birds of Prey
The Gentlemen
The Old Guard

The Invisible Man
La Llorona
Possessor Uncut
The Vast of Night

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The King of Staten Island
On the Rocks
Palm Springs

City Hall
Dick Johnson is Dead
My Octopus Teacher
The Social Dilemma

Over the Moon
The Wolf House

Another Round
Vitalina Varela

Human Resources complaint discussion in “The Assistant”
Rudy Guiliani hotel room visit in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Dinner with parents at farmhouse in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Sisters dine in restaurant in “The Invisible Man”
Questionnaire administered in “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

“The NBR is proud to honor ‘Da 5 Bloods,’ Spike Lee, and the film’s incredible ensemble cast, along with all of our 2020 awardees,” NBR president Annie Schulhof said in a statement.

“Lee is one of our greatest filmmakers, a bold auteur with a cinematic vision and an astute perspective on human relationships, focusing at times on that intersection between the personal and the political. ‘Da 5 Bloods’ is not only a unique portrait of the experience and lingering trauma of Black Vietnam War veterans, but also a moving story of enduring friendship, a suspenseful jungle treasure hunt, and a powerful reckoning with the American dream. We are also honored to present the posthumous NBR Icon Award to Chadwick Boseman, an extraordinary talent who represented the best of what an actor could be no matter what the role.”

The NBR was established in 1909 by theater owners protesting the New York mayor’s attempt to block the exhibition of motion pictures in the city.

According to The Wrap, In the 88 years it has been naming the year’s best film, it has agreed with the Oscars 22 times, though only once (“Green Book”) in the last 11 years.

The National Board of Review is not a critics’ organization. The group is made up of “knowledgeable film enthusiasts and professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students” in the New York area.

The Wrap said much of its relatively high profile comes from the fact that it is normally one of the first groups to pick the year’s best films — although in this year’s extended awards season, it made its choices well after the critics’ groups that adhered to calendar-year eligibility.

Like the Oscars and most guilds, the NBR allowed films to qualify this year as long as they were being released by Feb. 28, 2021.

Plans for an awards ceremony to celebrate 2020 winners will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the full list of winners below:

Best Film:  “Da 5 Bloods”

Best Director:  Spike Lee, “Da 5 Bloods”

Best Actor:  Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”

Best Actress:  Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

Best Supporting Actor:  Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”

Best Supporting Actress:  Youn Yuh-jung, “Minari”

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Paul Greengrass & Luke Davies, “News of the World”

Best Original Screenplay:  Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”

Breakthrough Performance:  Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

Best Directorial Debut:  Channing Godfrey Peoples, “Miss Juneteenth”

Best Animated Feature:  “Soul”

Best Foreign Language Film:  “La Llorona”

Best Documentary:  “Time”

NBR Icon Award:  Chadwick Boseman

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: “One Night in Miami”

NBR Spotlight Award: Radha Blank for writing, directing, producing and starring in “The Forty-Year-Old Version”

Best Ensemble:  “Da 5 Bloods”

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography:  Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland”

Top Films (in alphabetical order):

First Cow
The Forty-Year-Old Version
Judas and the Black Messiah
The Midnight Sky
News of the World
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order):

Dear Comrades
The Mole Agent
Night of the Kings

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order): 

All In: The Fight for Democracy
Boys State
Dick Johnson is Dead
Miss Americana
The Truffle Hunters

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order): 

The Climb
Farewell Amor
Miss Juneteenth
The Nest
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
The Outpost
Saint Frances

By Alex McPherson
2020 was a good year for movies, despite everything! Here are my top 10 films of the year, with 11 honorable mentions. There’s still some movies I need to watch, of course, including “Soul” and “Palm Springs.”

  • “Red Penguins”

Director Gabe Polsky’s documentary, “Red Penguins,” focuses on an American-Russian partnership that quickly spirals out of control. Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, two managers of the Pittsburgh Penguins and an eccentric marketing executive try to revive Russia’s national hockey team in cooperation with the team’s general managers. The tactics they deploy are, suffice to say, quite out-there. Live bears serving beer on the ice? Huh? 

Despite garnering international attention, problems soon arise. Poor decision-making among all parties creates a situation with life-and-death consequences. Featuring energetic editing that constantly keeps viewers on their toes, and interviewees who illuminate all sides of the story, “Red Penguins” is alternately hilarious and horrifying — a cautionary tale told in a harrowing fashion. More people need to watch this film.    

  • “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

Few films this year provide the raw emotional impact of director Eliza Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.” The film centers around a young woman in rural Pennsylvania named Autumn (Sidney Flanagan) who contends with an unintended pregnancy. She wants to get an abortion, but the state requires that she gets permission beforehand from her parents, with whom she has an uneasy relationship. This leads her to travel to New York City with her cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder), to seek out the procedure. Confronting not only the faults of America’s healthcare system but also the casual injustices faced by women on a regular basis, Hittman’s film is bleak, intense, yet absolutely essential viewing, with a suitably powerful ending.   

  • “Da 5 Bloods”

Director Spike Lee’s latest effort, “Da 5 Bloods,” is an ambitious exploration of war, trauma, friendship, and family. A group of four Black Vietnam War veterans return to Vietnam to locate the remains of their fallen squad leader, Stormin Norman (soulfully played by Chadwick Boseman), and find the treasure they hid together all those years ago. What follows is a timely, genre-blurring creation that only Lee could provide. Featuring excellent performances — especially by Delroy Lindo, playing a complex, mentally tormented individual — one of year’s finest scores, and a narrative that twists and turns unpredictably, Lee’s film is mesmerizing and packed with meaning.    

  • “Another Round”

“Another Round,” the latest effort from Danish film director Thomas Vinterberg, is a compelling and darkly comedic ode to appreciating the roller coaster of life. Martin, a depressed high school history teacher, takes part in an experiment along with three other colleagues to see what happens if they maintain a blood alcohol content of 0.05, which supposedly provides enhanced creativity and social skills. Unsurprisingly, even though the experiment begins with promising results, the four gentlemen soon get in way over their heads. At some points disturbing and heartbreaking, “Another Round” also contains moments of levity — capturing these characters’ struggles and triumphs through superb acting and dialogue. And that ending scene, oh boy. I could rewatch the film’s finale on repeat for an entire day and not get bored.

  • “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

Borat’s second feature-length outing feels like a slap-in-the-face to Trumpers — always a positive in my book — and has real heart beneath the outrageousness on display. Borat Sagdiev (Sacha Baron Cohen), a fictional journalist from Kazakhstan, finds himself on a mission to deliver his daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova), to Vice President Pence, in order to strengthen the nation’s standing with the United States after the fallout from the original film. Containing all the shocking, laugh-out-loud sequences that one expects from a “Borat” film — including an infamous interaction with the leaky vampire himself, Rudy Giuliani — the sequel is also about Borat’s relationship with Tutar, and Tutar’s journey from ignorance to enlightenment about how the world really works and her own ability to make an impact. All in all, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is “Very Nice!”

  • “Driveways”

A gentle, beautifully acted story, director Andrew Ahn’s “Driveways” is a perfect film to start the New Year with. Ahn shows how simple acts of kindness can have far-reaching rippling effects, and how friendships can form between people with starkly different life experiences. The heart of the film lies in the friendship between eight-year-old Cody (Lucas Jaye) and a widowed war veteran named Del, played by the late Brian Dennehy, who lives next door. Although the film’s plot remains predictable, Ahn’s film truly shines through its refreshingly low-key, nuanced approach to the material — cementing itself as one of 2020’s absolute gems. We can all learn something from “Driveways.”

  • “Sound of Metal”

Director Darius Marder’s “Sound of Metal” is a hard-hitting character study that makes use of cinema’s immersive potential. When a punk-metal drummer named Ruben (Riz Ahmed) starts to lose his hearing, his life is upended. He must reckon with his frustration, heartbreak, and feelings of hopelessness for his future. Though at times hard to watch, “Sound of Metal” is oh so moving, depicting Ruben’s journey in an uncompromising fashion. The film’s powerhouse performances and realistic narrative, combined with sound design that simulates the effects of Ruben’s hearing loss, creates a film whose visceral qualities are matched by thought-provoking, deeply human themes. 

  • “First Cow”

Set in 1820s Oregon, “First Cow” follows two travelers — a soft-spoken, introspective chef named Otis “Cookie” Figowitz (John Magaro) and King Lu (Orion Lee), a Chinese immigrant on the run from vengeful Russians — as they form a friendship and attempt to make a living in unforgiving conditions. Their business involves stealing milk from the only cow in the region, owned by the repugnant Chief Factor (Toby Jones), and baking popular, supremely delicious biscuits. Director Kelly Reichardt builds a quietly suspenseful tale exploring the American Dream, with three-dimensional characters, stunning cinematography, and an impeccable atmosphere that transports viewers to the time period. The film’s slower, more deliberate pace might turn off impatient viewers, but for everyone else, “First Cow” is first-rate. 

  • “Bacurau”

Impossible to pin down to a single genre, “Bacurau” is one of 2020’s most brutally satisfying films. Set in a fictional Brazillian village of the same name, the film depicts a tight-knit community working together to combat a threat that seeks to literally wipe them off the map. This crazy film works on multiple levels — as an allegory for struggles within contemporary Brazil, and as an emotional roller coaster with sympathetic heroes, sadistic villains, a cathartic conclusion, and revolutionary ideals. I’ve watched “Bacurau” four times and can’t wait to rewatch it again. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but any and all cinephiles should appreciate the film’s striking vision.

  • “Small Axe Anthology”

Yes, I realize that some people might classify director Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe Anthology” as television; however, I don’t care. This collection of five films is brilliant from start to finish, depicting the experiences of some West Indian immigrants in London during the 1960s and 1970s — including the 1971 trial of the Mangrove Nine and inequality within the schooling system. The films are unflinching, empathetic, and expertly crafted — depicting their subjects without reducing or simplifying their struggles for pure entertainment value. “Small Axe” encourages viewers to reflect on how far we’ve come, how much has worsened or stayed the same, and the heights we could achieve in terms of racial equality. Full of moments of joy, grief, struggle, and human connection, these films are achingly resonant, and they shouldn’t be missed.   

Honorable Mentions: “12 Hour Shift,” “American Utopia,” “Bad Education,” “Beasts Clawing at Straws,” “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets,” “Dick Johnson is Dead,” “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “My Dinner with Werner,” “The-Forty-Year-Old Version,” “The Vast of Night”