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National Board of Review 2015 Winners!

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Mad Max retro poster

I need to sit down for a moment.

The NBR has become one of my very favorite awards groups.

Do you know why?

Hit that jump and let’s dig right the fuck in.

Best Film: Mad Max: Fury Road


Top 10 Films:

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Creed
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Inside Out
  • The Martian
  • Room
  • Sicario
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

Let’s break this down.

I’ve seen 6 of these films. will see two (Creed and Room) within the week, and will see The Hateful Eight as soon as I can. Hopefully in 70mm. God knows if it’ll be anywhere near me, though.

I really need to rewatch Straight Outta Compton. I will reserve further judgment until then. I’m fine with it being here, though.

Ranking the 5 films I’ve seen and scored:

  • Bridge of Spies – #3
  • Inside Out – #4
  • The Martian – #6
  • Spotlight – #25
  • Sicario – #33

3 of my top 10 make their list, and my #1 film wins Best Film. Not too shabby. I still think Sicario was heavily overpraised (as was Spotlight), but no matter.

So glad Bridge is here, since that hasn’t had much buzz lately. A shame, since it’s so good. Also glad The Martian got on–and that’s not all it did.

Creed is a bit of a surprise, but given the praise, I totally get it. They like Tarantino, so Hateful Eight fits. Inside Out is, of course, beautiful. Room needed the boost–I’m glad it got it.

Not one of their more daring lists–Compton is about the most left-field choice, or maybe Sicario–but a good one. I’m happy with it.

No Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Danish Girl, Joy, or The Revenant, to name just a few. Should we read anything into that? Probably not, but it’s worth noting.

Straight Outta Compton poster

One of the year’s 10 best? May be. (Source)

Now, onto the rest of the awards:

Best Director: Ridley Scott, The Martian

Wow. I’m cool with this, even if he’s not my vote (he’s my #4). I wonder how far he’ll go, especially since he has both the veteran and the comeback narratives to boost him.

Best Actor: Matt Damon, The Martian

Really? Don’t get me wrong, he’s great in the movie (he’s my #5), but as a winner? Feels a little…lightweight. Really too bad they didn’t go with Paul Dano (or Ian McKellen). I won’t grumble too much, though.

Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room

Still need to see the film, but no complaints whatsoever here.

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Damn. This I would not have predicted. He really should be considered a threat to win the Oscar. Given the lack of a strong front-runner, I think he could pull it off.

Just need to see the film to see if I agree.

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

She’s having a good season. No real idea about the performance (though she looks fun in the trailer), but I’m excited as hell to find out.

Best Original Screenplay: The Hateful Eight

Woah. Not Spotlight? I’m totally fine with that–I didn’t think Spotlight was all that special writing-wise–but it’s a shock. Though, last year they gave this to The Lego Movie, so maybe they just march to the beat of their own drum. (They do, which is why they’re the best.)

Martian Scott and Damon on set

At least two of the men in this picture had a very good day.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Martian

They loved this movie, didn’t they? It’s actually only my #4 Adapted Screenplay (though I count Mad Max, my #2, as Adapted and most don’t), but it’s a good script and any time science fiction is given legitimate critical support, I’m happy.

Best Animated Feature: Inside Out

A touch surprised they didn’t pick Anomalisa, but how can you not be okay with this?

Breakthrough Performance: Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation and Jacob Tremblay, Room

I have to imagine these are both well merited.

Best Directorial Debut: Jonas Carpignano, Mediterranea

Guess I need to see this.

Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul

Know I need to see this.

Best Documentary: Amy

You have to consider this the frontrunner.

Big Short Carell Gosling

Still a terrible haircut. Or a terrible wig. Terrible regardless. (Source)

Best Ensemble: The Big Short

Weird this didn’t make their top films list (which only had 9 films, so…add this to make an even 10. Come on, guys). But I’ve gone from dreading this to being cautiously excited for it. So bring it on.

Spotlight Award: Sicario, for Outstanding Collaborative Vision

This should’ve gone to Spotlight.

I didn’t really see an “outstanding collaborative vision” in that film, but good for them, I guess?

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Beasts of No Nation and Mustang

Mustang is a French film about Turkish girls. It’s apparently good.

Top 5 Foreign Language Films:

  • Goodnight Mommy
  • Mediterranea
  • Phoenix
  • The Second Mother
  • The Tribe

Should’ve seen Goodnight Mommy and Phoenix when I had the chance. Good for The Tribe, though.

Top 5 Documentaries:

  • Best of Enemies
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
  • The Diplomat
  • Listen to Me Marlon
  • The Look of Silence

The Look of Silence. Yes.

71 poster

Still a great poster, but a forgettable film.

Top 10 Independent Films:

  • Cop Car
  • Ex Machina
  • 45 Years
  • Grandma
  • It Follows
  • James White
  • Mississippi Grind
  • ’71
  • Welcome to Me
  • While We’re Young

This is a weirdly mixed list. Cop Car wasn’t even supposed to be that great. And Welcome to Me got wildly mixed reviews. But Ex Machina, Mississippi Grind, and It Follows were all very good indeed. And I anxiously await 45 yEARS.

That’s the NBR for you, though.

Max taking Best Film alone makes this a great year. It’s overall not one of their absolute best…but this hasn’t been a great year. It’s been an okay year. I have 9 films which get ****½ or higher; last year, I ended up with 29. I’ll be lucky to have half that many by the time I do my awards.

But that’s life. And it ain’t over yet.

Tomorrow is the New York Film Critics Circle. God only knows what they’ll enshrine.


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