The National Board of Review chose Zero Dark Thirty as its best film, but it was the selection of a few out-of-the-box nominees that are most compelling — including a supporting actress nomination for character actress Ann Dowd’s work in the indie thriller Compliance.
Zero Dark Thirty, which also claimed the group’s best director prize for Kathryn Bigelow, can count this — along with the same wins at the New York Film Critics Circle on Monday — as a serious momentum-builder in the race for the Oscars. But ever since it began screening last week, the film has been heralded far and wide as a heavyweight award season player. Academy voters, it’s fair to say, are already aware.
For someone like Dowd, whose film is lesser known and doesn’t have the same marketing machine behind her, this is a critical victory, a massive “CONSIDER THIS” sign pointed directly at her. If they haven’t already, the Screen Actors Guild nominating committee, Golden Globe voters, and Academy members would be wise to check out her work in the film, in which she plays a well-meaning fast-food manager who is manipulated into thinking one of her employees (Don’t Trust the B‘s Dreama Walker) is guilty of a crime.