The National Board of Review will reveal their 2015 winners tomorrow and I have predictions ready to go for you right here. The NBR, although not film critics (as listed on their website: “film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals, academics and students”), were established in 1909 and are the oldest organization to give out film awards. They routinely are the first out of the gate to do so each year, sometimes going toe to toe with the New York Film Critics Circle to set off the Oscar race.
As we discussed in our most recent podcast, The NBR has a rather infamous history of favoritism towards specific actors, directors and studios. To be exact; George Clooney, Clint Eastwood and Warner Brothers. They consistently reward one or, heaven forbid if they all have movies in the same year like 2009, all of them so sometimes it makes predicting these awards kind of easier, if more than a bit cynical. In 2013 and 2014 Warner Brothers managed three films in the NBR top 10 both years. With no Clooney or Eastwood (who won Best Director last year for American Sniper) I’m looking to Warner Brothers three major films this year: Black Mass, Creed and Mad Max: Fury Road. I see all three of them getting in with the possibility of major wins from at least two of them.
Normally, winners of Best Film at the NBR go on to some kind of Oscar glory. It wasn’t until last year when A Most Violent Year won that an NBR Best Film winner went on to get totally snubbed at the Academy Awards. It hadn’t happened in over 60 years.
Now, for Best Film this year I am leaning towards Spotlight because I feel the academics within the group will respect the story and film about journalists who uncover a major scandal and becomes heroes, essentially. It just feels like their wheelhouse. Elsewhere on the list are some semi-traditional curses. If Best Actress goes to a British performance there’s a good chance it won’t be Oscar nominated (I’m looking at you, Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks). Best Supporting Actress is often a death knell to a campaign that’s only begun. These aren’t solid truths, by any means. Just a recent history that leans a certain way that guides predictions. For example, Carey Mulligan won Best Actress for An Education in 2009 and went on to an Oscar nomination as well. In my prediction of Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years I can see it going either way for her. Her hold on 5th place in the Best Actress Oscar race is tenuous at best.
The NBR also releases lists of Top 10 Independent Films, Top 5 Documentaries and Top 5 Foreign Films to accompany the top film in the latter two and that can make predicting a bit hard. Especially in what they qualify as an ‘independent’ film. In the recent past Nightcrawler and Fruitvale Station have made it into the Top Films category while double Oscar-winner Dallas Buyers Club was in the Independent section. Room, for example, could show up in either section. I’m predicting it makes it into the big one.
So below are my predictions plus an alternate just to hedge my bets a bit.
Top Ten Films
01. Black Mass
02. Bridge of Spies
06. Mad Max: Fury Road
07. The Martian
08. The Revenant
10. Steve Jobs
Winner: Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Alternate: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Alternate: Johnny Depp, Black Mass
Winner: Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Alternate: Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Alternate: Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Cynthia Nixon, James White
Alternate: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
Best Breakthrough Performance
Winner: Jacob Tremblay, Room
Alternate: Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Best Ensemble Cast
Winner: Black Mass
Alternate: The Big Short
Best Directorial Debut
Winner: Lázló Nemes, Son of Saul
Alternate: Josh Mond, James White
Best Original Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Alternate: The Big Short
Best Foreign Language Film
Alternate: Son of Saul
Winner: Heart of a Dog
Alternate: In Jackson Heights
Best Animated Feature
Alternate: Inside Out