The National Society of Film Critics was founded in 1966 in order to promote the mutual interests of film-making and film criticism. Its membership is by election, and includes the critics of most major American newspapers and prominent online websites as well as critics from smaller/regional newspapers, free weeklies, major weekly magazines, specialized film journals, and freelance journalists.
The NSFC holds an annual meeting in early January to award the the best film-making of the previous year. There is no nomination process prior to the vote; every film which had a theatrical release in the U.S. in the previous year is eligible. There is no division of voting by trade (actors, screenwriters, directors, etc.). The meeting is not televised or otherwise “prettied up” with awards ceremonies, presenters, etc. The results are disseminated to the press and publicists immediately after the meeting.
[UPDATE, JAN. 7, 2017: “Moonlight” announced as 2016 Best Picture Winner]
I am compiling this list both for my own benefit (to have one easy place to refer to the NSFC Best Pictures) and for your benefit (especially if you’re not aware of the NSFC or its award winners). I will start with a simple chronological list of Best Picture winners*. In the future, I may add other categories as lists of their own (at which time the title of this list would become “National Society of Film Critics: Best Picture Winners 1966-20xx”). I will write my reviews for each film as I see it (I have seen some of these films previously; I will see them again before I review them).
*1999 was a tie between “Topsy-Turvy” and “Being John Malkovich”
NOTE: The NSFC began voting for “Best Nonfiction Film” in 1984 and “Best Foreign Language Film” in 1990. Prior to 1990, foreign language films could (and often did) win the NSFC award for Best Picture. This happened ten times in the first 24 years of the “Best Picture” award (1966-1989):
1967: Persona (Sweden)
1968: Shame (Sweden)
1969: Z (France)
1971: Claire’s Knee (France)
1972: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (France)
1973: Day for Night (France)
1974: Scenes from a Marriage (Sweden)
1978: Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Belgium)
1983: Night of the Shooting Stars (Italy)
1985: Ran (Japan).
Since 1990, when a foreign language film wins Best Picture, there is no separate award for “Best Foreign Language Film”. In that case, the film is on this list (Best Picture) but not on the other list (Best Foreign-Language Film). This has happened five times in the 27 years of the “Best Foreign Language Film” award (1990-2016):
2000: Yi Yi (Taiwan)
2006: Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain)
2008: Waltz with Bashir (Israel)
2012: Amour (France)
2014: Goodbye to Language (France)
For more information about the NSFC: https://nationalsocietyoffilmcritics.com/
For a list of members: https://nationalsocietyoffilmcritics.com/members/