If you want the gravy…

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The NBR Project

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One of the 10 best films of 1973, according to the NBR. Certainly one of the 10 greatest taglines of all time.

I’ve attempted to do this a couple of times before, but never gotten very far. The National Board of Review has been announcing Top 10 lists of films since 1929, making them almost as old as the Academy–and since they have always cited 10 films, while the Academy for many years cited only 5, you could argue they are more comprehensive. No awards body is perfect, but here’s a list of some major films the Academy didn’t cite (for Best Picture at least) and the NBR did:

  • Hallelujah!
  • City Lights
  • Scarface (1932)
  • Lot in Sodom
  • Who Killed Cock Robin?
  • Fury
  • Make Way for Tomorrow
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Young Mr. Lincoln
  • Fantasia
  • Dumbo
  • Sullivan’s Travels
  • Lassie Come Home
  • Meet Me in St. Louis
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

  • My Darling Clementine
  • Odd Man Out
  • Day of Wrath
  • The Bicycle Thief
  • The Asphalt Jungle
  • Strangers on a Train
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Stalag 17
  • A Star is Born (1954)
  • East of Eden
  • Lust for Life
  • The Spirit of St. Louis
  • The Long, Hot Summer
  • Some Like it Hot
  • Inherit the Wind
  • One, Two, Three
  • The Miracle Worker
  • Hud
  • Topkapi
  • The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
  • It Happened Here
  • In Cold Blood
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (I’m doing this year first. They made some awesome picks this year.)
  • They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
  • Kes
  • The Tales of Beatrix Potter
  • The Ruling Class
  • Serpico
  • A Woman Under the Influence
  • The Day of the Locust
  • Silent Movie
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Days of Heaven
  • Being There
  • The Stunt Man
  • Breaker Morant
  • Sophie’s Choice
  • Yentl
  • Birdy
  • Blood Simple
  • The Fly
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Glory
  • Miller’s Crossing
  • Boyz n the Hood
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Ed Wood
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Trainspotting
  • Boogie Nights
  • Happiness
  • Magnolia
  • Dancer in the Dark
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Adaptation.
  • The Last Samurai
  • Collateral
  • A History of Violence
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • WALL-E
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Shutter Island
  • Drive
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Prisoners

Pretty good list, no? There’s some cool stuff on there, there’s some iconic stuff on there, there’s some weird stuff on there (Who Killed Cock Robin? is a Disney short, and it’s not even the weirdest pick they’ve made)…it’s a fascinating, somewhat overlooked perspective on decades of cinema, and I hope to dig into what the various lists tell us about the NBR itself, how they differ from the Academy (for better or worse).

Basically, I’ll take a year at a time, evaluate each film, evaluate the list as a whole and in relation to the year in film…the whole shebang. I’m not doing these in chronological order (the early years in particular will be difficult to do fully); rather, I’ll do them at random, with a bias given to years with films I either have on hand or am anxious to discuss.

It’ll take some time. It might be a couple of years at least before this project is done. I might say little about one film and much about another, though I will try to be as equitable as I can. The first year will be 1968, and hopefully I can get that post up within the next couple of weeks.

A final note: I’ve seen at least two attempts to comprehensively evaluate the Oscars over the years. I’m not sure if anyone’s tried to do the Globes (I’d be game to try it after I do this), but as far as I know, NO ONE has ever done the NBR. Which I find surprising, since they’ve been around so long. So I guess the mantle falls to me. I’ll do my best to be worthy of it.

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