Scorsese also picked up the Best Director prize when the honours were announced on Thursday (01Dec11).
George Clooney took home the Best Actor trophy for The Descendants and his Michael Clayton co-star Tilda Swinton was honoured with the Best Actress prize for harrowing drama We Need to Talk About Kevin. Clooney's movie daughter Shailene Woodley picked up the Best Supporting Actress award.
Meanwhile, cancer survivor Will Reiser was handed the Best Screenplay accolade for his honest 50/50, which recounted his battle with the disease and starred pal Seth Rogen.
The National Board of Review members also announced their top 10 films of 2011. The countdown features Hugo, Oscars favourites The Artist and The Descendants, Drive, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Tree of Life, The Ides of March, War Horse and J. Edgar.
The full list of NBR winners is:
Best Film: Hugo
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants
Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Best Original Screenplay: Will Reiser, 50/50
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Breakthrough Performance: Felicity Jones, Like Crazy
Breakthrough Performance: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Debut Director: J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Best Ensemble: The Help
Spotlight Award: Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class)
NBR Freedom of Expression: Crime After Crime
NBR Freedom of Expression: Pariah
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: The Harry Potter Franchise.