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‘Birdman’ vs ‘Boyhood’ – let the awards battle begin

In the first volley of year-end citations for 2014’s bumper crop of films, the love was spread around, with ‘Birdman,’ ‘Boyhood’ and ‘A Most Violent Year’ receiving top honors from, respectively, the Gotham Independent Film Awards, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the National Board of Review.

If one thing is clear from the results of the kudos meted out this week by the Gotham Independent Film Awards, the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle, it's that nothing is clear. On Monday, the NYFCC announced Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making Boyhood as the year's best picture. The Gotham Independent Film Awards were handed out that same night, with Alejandro G. Iñárritu's  Birdman glomming the grand prize (and Michael Keaton, its star, best actor). On Tuesday, the National Board of Review chimed in, plucking J. C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year, starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, from their list of 2014's ten most worthy (on which both Birdman and Boyhood appeared). Boyhood and Birdman have both been released in theaters nationwide.  A Most Violent Year – set in New York City during the grimier, crime-ier early '80s – gets a limited, Oscar-qualifying release in late December, but won't widen out until January. (It's tentatively slated to open in Philly on Jan. 23.)

There was more accord on the documentary front, with both the Gothams and NYFFC naming Citizenfour, about NSA whistleblower (or traitor?) Edward Snowden, their best non-fiction feature of the year. And Julianne Moore won best actress recognition from both the Gothams and the NBR for her portrayal of a college prof with early onset Alzheimer's, in Still Alice. (Marion Cotillard got the NYFCC's attention for her work in two 2014 releases: The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night.)

Next up: The Los Angeles Film Critics Association announces its picks Sunday, Dec. 7, and the Screen Actors Guild's nominations on Wednesday, Dec. 10.