Sat. Sep 19th, 2020

National Board of Review (NBR), New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) Preview and Predictions

It’s not truly awards season until the National Board of Review (NBR) and the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) kick it off as the first major groups to announce their winners, is it? (Sorry, Atlanta)

Although the National Board of Review are not comprised of critics, per se, they are the oldest organization that gives out film awards and are always first (usually by a day) and although they don’t reveal their members’ identities we can often look at their past choices and preferences to build a base for predicting who they’re going to choose. Back in the day you could almost always count on Warner Bros and Clint Eastwood landing wins every single time (based on a former member’s very close relationship with both, but that allegiance still seems to exist as the studio has had a top 10 placement here every year since 2003); Sony Pictures films have been favorites of theirs as well. That could bode well for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Little Women, Joker and Richard Jewell.

As a bellwether for the Oscars they’re hit and miss, to be sure. Last year, however, they followed the TIFF Audience Award with rewarding Green Book as their Best Picture, which went on to win the Golden Globe and the Best Picture Oscar. But take that with a grain of salt; it’s the only time this decade the two have aligned.

In Best Actress they often love a ‘smart woman’ choice so sometimes you can look at the contenders who are teachers, leaders, doctors and the like. But also artists, as last year’s winner Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) showed. Or, maybe it was the WB factor. Sometimes this win is a bit of a curse, as Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Amy Adams (Arrival) can tell you. This is where Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) began her critics awards domination that led all way to an Oscar win.

Here are my predictions (with alternatives to hedge my bet a bit) for the National Board of Review (NBR) awards. They announce on December 3rd.

Best Film
Winner: 1917

Top Ten Films (alphabetical)
The Farewell
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
Richard Jewell
The Two Popes

Best Director
Winner: Sam Mendes, 1917
Alternate: Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Best Directorial Debut
Winner: Olivia Wilde, Booksmart
Alternate: Joe Talbot, The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Best Actor
Winner: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Alternate: Robert De Niro, The Irishman

Best Actress
Winner: Renée Zellweger, Judy
Alternate: Awkwafina, The Farewell

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Al Pacino, The Irishman
Alternate: Brad Pitt, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Alternate: Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell

Best Breakthrough Performance
Winner: George MacKay, 1917
Alternate: Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell

Best Ensemble Cast
Winner: Knives Out
Alternate: Little Women

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: Parasite
Alternate: Pain and Glory

Best Documentary
Winner: Apollo 11
Alternate: The Biggest Little Farm

Best Animated Feature
Winner: Toy Story 4
Alternate: Missing Link

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: The Farewell
Alternate: Marriage Story

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Little Women
Alternate: The Irishman

For the NYFCC you really do your detective work (and believe me, some of us do) by looking at the list of members of the group, their reviews and tweets and form what could be the prevailing thought of who will win. They have their favorites too, and sometimes they go outside the box with winners (Cameron Diaz for There’s Something About Mary and Tiffany Haddish for Girls Trip remain two of their most inspired choices ever) and even strangely align with Oscar in surprising ways like choosing Meryl Streep as Best Actress for the critically derided The Iron Lady. The group doesn’t use a simple plurality for voting, they can have multiple rounds and redistributed votes that end up with some of these eclectic winners. Three of the year’s biggest critical hits: The Irishman, Marriage Story and Parasite are all top contenders here with some of the group’s most high profile members (like Stephanie Zacharek, Joe Morgenstern, Dana Stevens and David Sims) giving each film high scores. Also in the mix are The Farewell and Jojo Rabbit. Sometimes being the most recently seen (and loved) works out well, as it did for American Hustle in 2013. This year, 1917 holds that distinction and it could spell success.

So what’s the NYFCC’s history/correlation with Oscar’s Best Picture? Nomination-wise, pretty damn good. The only film this decade to win here and then miss out on a BP nom has been Carol. Only one film, The Artist, won both but there were definitely years where Oscar’s #2 choice hit here (Roma, La La Land, The Social Network).

Here are my predictions (with alternatives since NYFCC lists runners-up) for the New York Film Critics Circle awards. They announce on December 4th.

Best Picture
Winner: The Irishman
Runner-up: Parasite

Best Director
Winner: Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Runner-up: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Best Screenplay
Winner: Marriage Story
Runner-up: Little Women

Best Actor
Winner: Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Runner-up: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

Best Actress
Winner: Awkwafina, The Farewell
Runner-up: Alfre Woodard, Clemency

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Runner-up: Al Pacino, The Irishman

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Runner-up: Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

Best Animated Film
Winner: I Lost My Body
Runner-up: Weathering With You

Best Foreign Film
Winner: Parasite
Runner-up: Pain & Glory

Best Non-Fiction Film
Winner: Honeyland
Runner-up: Apollo 11

Best Cinematographer
Winner: Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse
Runner-up: Roger Deakins, 1917

Best First Film
Winner: Olivia Wilde, Booksmart
Runner-up: Joe Talbot, The Last Black Man In San Francisco

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