A Most Violent Year named best film by National Board of Review

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image captionIsaac and Chastain play a New York businessman and his volatile wife in A Most Violent Year

A crime drama set in 1980s New York has been named film of the year by the influential National Board of Review.

JC Chandor's A Most Violent Year also picked up acting awards for its stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain from the New York-based collective of film historians, student and academics.

Isaac shared his best actor prize with Birdman star Michael Keaton.

Clint Eastwood, meanwhile, won the best director prize for his Iraq war drama American Sniper.

A Most Violent Year, released in the UK in January, was regarded as a surprise choice by some in a year that has yet to see one title emerge as a clear awards contender.

Earlier this week the New York Film Critics Circle named Richard Linklater's Boyhood best film of the year, while the Gotham Independent Film Awards plumped for Birdman.

Both films feature on the National Board of Review's 2014 Top 10, an eclectic list that also includes such films as The Imitation Game, Gone Girl and The Lego Movie.

The latter title, a 3D animation set in a world of plastic children's blocks, was the unexpected recipient of the body's best original screenplay prize.

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image captionJulianne Moore shares a moment with newly-weds Romain Dauriac and Scarlett Johansson at the Gothams

Keaton picked up another best actor prize at the Gothams on Monday, where Julianne Moore was also honoured for her work in Still Alice.

The 54-year-old has been tipped to win the best actress award at the Oscars in February for her role as a woman grappling with early onset Alzheimer's.

The National Board of Review awarded How to Train Your Dragon 2 its best animated feature prize and gave British actor Jack O'Connell its breakthrough performance award.

He and the other recipients of this year's awards will have the opportunity to collect their prizes at the NBR's annual awards gala, to be held in New York on 6 January.

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