"Often counted among the best film actors of his generation," said the NBR announcement, "he brings a rare sensitivity to his roles."
Voight earned a best actor Oscar nomination and achieved stardom in his fourth movie, "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), playing the role of Joe Buck, a country boy who goes to New York City to become a stud-for-hire and develops an unexpected friendship with the seedy Ratso Rizzo -- played by Dustin Hoffman, who was also nominated for a best actor Oscar. The movie won Oscars for best picture, best director (John Schlesinger) and best adapted screenplay (Waldo Salt).
The performance earned Voight best actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. He was also named most promising newcomer at the Golden Globes and the British Film Academy BAFTA Awards.
Voight won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Luke Martin, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran in "Coming Home" (1978), which also earned a best actress Oscar for Jane Fonda and an original screenplay Oscar for Salt, Nancy Dowd and Robert C. Jones.
Voight shared the NBR award for best actor with Laurence Olivier, who was honored for "The Boys from Brazil." He won best actor honors at the Golden Globe Awards and the Cannes Film Festival, and was named best actor by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
He earned his third Oscar nomination and his second Golden Globe as Oscar "Manny" Manheim, an escaped convict who hides out on a train that ends up roaring through Alaska without an engineer, in "Runaway Train" (1985).
Among Voight's other memorable performances: Ed Gentry, the ordinary man who finds himself overwhelmed by extraordinary evil on a canoeing trip in "Deliverance" (1972); Billy Flynn, the outmatched palooka trying for a comeback in the fight game in "The Champ" (1979); and FDR this year in "Pearl Harbor."
Other film credits include: "Catch-22" (1970), "The Odessa File" (1974), "Desert Bloom" (1986), "Mission: Impossible" (1996) and this year's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," in which he played Lord Croft opposite his daughter, Angelina Jolie, in the title role.
Jolie is an Oscar-winner herself. She won supporting actress honors for "Girl, Interrupted" (1999).
Voight also starred as Noah in the 1999 TV miniseries, "Noah's Ark," and as General Stroop in the recent NBC miniseries, "Uprising."
Next up for Voight, the Christmas release of "Ali," in which he plays ABC Sports legend Howard Cosell to Will Smith's Muhammad Ali.
Born on Dec. 29, 1938, in Yonkers, N.Y., Voight is the son of professional golfer Elmer Voight and his wife, Barbara. Voight's brother, Wesley Voight, gained fame as the composer of the Troggs' hit, "Wild Thing," under the name of Chip Taylor.
His son, James Haven Voight, is a film and TV director.
Voight earned a BFA at Catholic University in Washington (1960), and studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York (1960-64).
He joins a list of NBR Career Achievement Award winners that includes Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood, Patricia Neal, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier, Gena Rowlands and James Stewart.
Voight will pick up the award on Jan. 7, when the Board has its annual awards ceremony at Tavern on the Green in New York.
The NBR was founded in 1909, originally calling itself the National Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures. It changed its name to the National Board of Review in 1915, and has become one of the more prestigious associations of film critics, educators and writers.