Martin Scorsese also earned the Best Director prize for helming it.
"'Hugo' is such a personal film by Martin Scorsese," Annie Schulhof, NBR's president, said in a statement. "It is a tribute to the early years of cinema that uses today's cutting-edge technology to bring the audience into a completely unique and magical world. It is visually stunning and emotionally engaging."
"The Descendants" was another of the board's favorites this year. The film's stars, George Clooney and Shailene Woodley, won Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively, while its scribes, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, shared the Best Adapted Screenplay honor.
Will Reiser won the award for Best Original Screenplay for "50/50" and "Rango" was named Best Animated Feature.
The organization said the other films it deemed the best of 2011, in alphabetical order, are "The Artist," "The Descendants," "Drive," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," "The Ides of March," "J. Edgar," "Tree of Life" and "War Horse."