The National Board of Review (NBR) is set to kickstart the 2018-2019 awards season with its 88th year of handing out awards for the best in film. In their first year, 1930, they named the top 10 films of the year and the top 5 foreign language films. They are the oldest organization outside of the Academy to do so and comprised of a “group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals and academics of varying ages and backgrounds.”
Let’s start by taking a look at recent NBR acting winners and how and if they correlated to Oscar nominations and wins. Names in italics didn’t earn Oscar nominations, names in bold won the Oscar after winning the NBR first.
2017: Tom Hanks / Meryl Streep / Willem Dafoe / Laurie Metcalf
2016: Casey Affleck / Amy Adams / Jeff Bridges / Naomie Harris
2015: Matt Damon / Brie Larson / Sylvester Stallone / Jennifer Jason Leigh
2014: Oscar Isaac & Michael Keaton / Julianne Moore / Edward Norton / Jessica Chastain
2013: Bruce Dern / Emma Thompson / Will Forte / Octavia Spencer
2012: Bradley Cooper / Jessica Chastain / Leonardo DICaprio / Ann Dowd
2011: George Clooney / Tilda Swinton / Christopher Plummer / Shailene Woodley
2010: Jesse Eisenberg / Lesley Manville / Christian Bale / Jacki Weaver
2009: George Clooney & Morgan Freeman / Carey Mulligan / Woody Harrelson / Anna Kendrick
2008: Clint Eastwood / Anne Hathaway / Josh Brolin / Penelope Cruz
In eight of those years at least one winner here didn’t translate to an Oscar nomination. In only two years did all winners make it all the way. I’m going out on a bit of a limb today with acting predictions that I also think will also earn Oscar noms. In this 10-year span, Best Actress and Supporting Actress have the worst track record, with four non-Oscar nominees each while Supporting Actor has the best with just two missing out.
Sometimes the NBR will cite a single actor for multiple performances in a single year and this year could see that happen to the likes of Brian Tyree Henry, Lucas Hedges, Rachel Weisz or Rachel McAdams, just to name a few.
I would be cautious of predicting ROMA as the group’s top film or even in their top 10. Not as a mark on its quality but that the NBR has only twice ever given its top film prize to a completely foreign language (and foreign produced) film since it began giving out awards in 1930 and strangely, two years in a row – 1948’s Paisen and 1949’s The Bicycle Thief. It should be noted though that while the group had a foreign language film category early on, there were no FLF winners from 1942 to 1949 and only beginning in 1950 did they hand it out every year. 2006’s Letters from Iwo Jima from Clint Eastwood, which is almost entirely in Japanese, probably counts (mostly does) but also falls into the period where the NBR was overwhelmingly biased towards Warner Bros and Eastwood. Even their top 10 list almost exclusively relegates FLFs to their own category. Amour and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon didn’t even make it on their Top Films lists.
It’s also a bit of a crapshoot as to what the group defines as an Independent Film. The NBR introduced the category in 2006 and there is no crossover. It seems clear that they’ll bump an indie up if it’s high profile enough; The Florida Project, Call Me By Your Name, Moonlight, Room all found their way into the group’s Top Films list whereas 20th Century Women, Captain Fantastic and Ex Machina were relegated to the Top Independent Films list. I can see some of the higher profile indies like Eighth Grade or First Reformed making it to the big kids table but I think something like Can You Ever Forgive Me? might be right up the alley of the groups’ academics.
Since 2000, only two films named Best Film by the NBR did not go on to be Best Picture nominated at the Oscars – 2000’s Quills and 2014’s A Most Violent Year. The latter won three awards from the NBR and is the only film in NBR history to win their top prize and then earn zero Oscar nominations.
Here are my predictions (with alternates) for this year’s National Board of Review awards. Stay tuned tomorrow around 12pm PST to see if I’m right or wrong.
A Star Is Born
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Crazy Rich Asians
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Quiet Place
Alfonso Cuarón, ROMA
Alternate: Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Christian Bale, Vice
Alternate: Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Glenn Close, The Wife
Alternate: Toni Collette, Hereditary
Best Supporting Actor
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Alternate: Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk, White Boy Rick and Widows
Best Supporting Actress
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alternate: Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Leave No Trace
Best Adapted Screenplay
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Alternate: If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Original Screenplay
Best Animated Film
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Alternate: Isle of Dogs
Best Foreign Language Film
Alternate: Cold War
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Best Directorial Debut
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Alternate: Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Alternate: Crazy Rich Asians
Breakthrough Performance (Male or Female)
Yalitza Aparicio, ROMA
Alternate: Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade