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National Board of Review names Will Smith Best Actor, Rachel Zegler Best Actress, and ‘Licorice Pizza’ Best Film for 2021

Written by on December 2, 2021

The National Board of Review, which annually acknowledges excellence in film in a variety of categories, has announced its picks for its 2021 honorees, with its top awards going to Will Smith in the Best Actor category for King RichardRachel Zegler as Best Actress for West Side Story, and Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Licorice Pizza named Best Film.

Anderson was also hailed as Best Director for this year. 

The honorees will be feted at the NBR Awards Gala, hosted by Willie Geist, on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

National Board of Review President Annie Schulhof commented in a statement, “In a moment of transition and uncertainty, there is nothing like Licorice Pizza to remind us of the joy, hope, and exhilaration that great cinema can inspire.”

Other movies hailed by the organization as one of its “Top Films” of the year included DuneThe Last Duel, the Netflix environmental disaster movie Don’t Look Up with Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, and The Tragedy of Macbeth, which stars Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.

Here is a list of the winners in the major categories: 

Best Film: Licorice Pizza 

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Best Actor: Will Smith, King Richard

Best Actress: Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor: Ciarán Hinds, Belfast

Best Supporting Actress: Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Best Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Breakthrough Performance: Alana Haim & Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Best Directorial Debut: Michael Sarnoski, Pig

Best Animated Feature: Encanto

Best Foreign Language Film: A Hero

Best Documentary: Summer of Soul (Or…When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) 

Best Ensemble: The Harder They Fall 

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Freedom of Expression Award: Flee

Top Films (in alphabetical order)


Don’t Look Up


King Richard

The Last Duel

Nightmare Alley

Red Rocket

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)



Lingui, The Sacred Bonds


The Worst Person in the World

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