There have been several websites devoted to analyzing the Oscar nominees and winners over the years. But none that I know of have tackled the Top 10 lists of the National Board of Review, which have been published since 1929, and have encompassed some great films the Academy overlooked, made some strange omissions of their own, and even made a few outright baffling picks (see above). They’re one of the oldest awards groups in the country, yet they remain relatively unknown. And I don’t think that’s right.
So what I’m going to do is review their top 10 lists, year by year. I started by reviewing 2013, for obvious reasons. I’m not sure which year I’ll tackle next. Obviously, some years will have entries that I do not have immediate access to; some of their choices over the years are incredibly hard to find now. The 30s are naturally quite difficult in this regard, but there are picks from as late as the 80s which are fairly elusive (1977’s The Picture Show Man in particular seems to have never had any home video release in North America).
Because of that, leaving a year un-analyzed until I’ve seen every film would put the pace for this project even farther back than it probably already will be. So a compromise must be effected. Here’s what I’ll do:
- If I’ve seen or have immediate access (own a copy/Netflix/YouTube) to at least 6 of the 10 films, I’ll go ahead and publish, if the remaining films are reasonably readily available (that is, could be rented or checked out of the library, or bought for a reasonable price);
- If I’ve seen or have immediate access to 5 or fewer films on a list, and the films I lack immediate access to are not reasonably readily available, I’ll go ahead and publish.
- Otherwise, I’ll draft the entry for that year, but not publish until I have seen all of the films, or at least all the films that I can reasonably readily obtain.
(Addendum 6/29/2018: I never really got this project off the ground. I may return to it at some point – and I still post an annual analysis of each year’s list – but I think I was biting off more than I could chew, leaving this page as something of an artifact.)
And now, for the articles themselves:
The complete lists to date, with my thoughts on each:
And last, but certainly not least, my full analyses of the lists, in chronolgical order: