The movie, set to open in limited release Dec. 19, took home two other top prizes, as Bigelow was deemed best director and star Jessica Chastain was given the lead actress award. It's been a good week for the movie, which this week also received the highest honors from the New York Film Critics Circle.
Best actor of the year went to Bradley Cooper for his portrayal of a man struggling with bipolar disorder in "Silver Linings Playbook." Leonardo DiCaprio won supporting actor as a plantation owner in "Django Unchained," and Ann Dowd was named best supporting actress for playing a fast-food restaurant manager in "Compliance."
The National Board of Review, founded in 1909, describes itself as a "select group of knowledgeable film enthusiasts and professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students. Group members viewed over 250 films to make this year's selections, which include "Argo," "Lincoln" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" as among the top movies of 2012.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and NBR haven't agreed on the same best film since 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire." Last year, NBR selected "Hugo" as 2011's top movie, while the academy chose "The Artist." In 2010, the Oscar went to "The King's Speech," but NBR gave its biggest honor to "The Social Network."
The NBR awards will be presented Jan. 8 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.
Other winners announced Wednesday:
Best Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, "Looper"
Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Animated Feature: "Wreck-It Ralph"
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Ben Affleck, "Argo"
Breakthrough Actor: Tom Holland, "The Impossible"
Breakthrough Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Best Foreign Language Film: "Amour"