The National Board of Review has chosen Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman as the Best Film of 2019, they announced this morning. This comes a day after Netflix also won Best Feature at the Gotham Awards, for Marriage Story, which ended up empty-handed here today.
The Irishman also picked up wins for Steven Zaillian’s screenplay and director Martin Scorsese, stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino were awarded the NBR Icon Award.
Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood picked up two wins: Best Director for Quentin Tarantino and Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt. Warner Bros’ Richard Jewell won prizes for Kathy Bates in Supporting Actress and Paul Walter Hauser for Breakthrough Performance.
Renée Zellweger (Judy) and Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) took the lead acting wins.
The Freedom of Expression Award was given to both For Sama and Just Mercy and the Ensemble prize went to Knives Out.
To determine the NBR’s annual awards, ballots are sent in by over 100 members – a select group of knowledgeable film enthusiasts, academics, and filmmakers in the New York metropolitan area – and subsequently tabulated by a certified public accountancy firm in order to decide the winners. In addition, the Awards Committee determines the special achievement awards presented at the annual gala in January.
The organization also works to foster commentary on all aspects of film production by underwriting educational film programs and seminars for film students. In 2017, the NBR provided grants to Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, Ghetto Film School, and Educational Video Center. The organization also awarded grants to 13 student filmmakers as part of its annual student grant program.
The National Board of Review awards gala will take place on January 7, 2020 at Cipriani’s 42nd Street and be hosted by NBC and MSNBC’s Willie Geist.
Best Film: THE IRISHMAN
Best Director: Quentin Tarantino, ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD
Best Actor: Adam Sandler, UNCUT GEMS
Best Actress: Renée Zellweger, JUDY
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD
Best Supporting Actress: Kathy Bates, RICHARD JEWELL
Best Original Screenplay: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein, UNCUT GEMS
Best Adapted Screenplay: Steven Zaillian, THE IRISHMAN
Breakthrough Performance: Paul Walter Hauser, RICHARD JEWELL
Best Directorial Debut: Melina Matsoukas, QUEEN & SLIM
Best Animated Feature: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
Best Foreign Language Film: PARASITE
Best Documentary: MAIDEN
Best Ensemble: KNIVES OUT
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917
NBR Icon Award: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: FOR SAMA
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: JUST MERCY
Top 10 Films (in alphabetical order)
Dolemite is My Name
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
Pain and Glory
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)
The Black Godfather
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese
Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)
Give Me Liberty
A Hidden Life
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
The Peanut Butter Falcon
About the NBR
The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures was founded in 1909 in New York City, 14 years after the birth of cinema, to protest New York City Mayor George B. McClellan Jr.’s revocation of moving-picture exhibition licenses on Christmas Eve 1908. The mayor (son of Civil War general George B. McClellan) believed that the new medium degraded the morals of the community. To assert their freedom of expression, theatre owners led by Marcus Loew and film distributors (Edison, Biograph, Pathé, and Gaumont) joined John Collier of the People’s Institute at Cooper Union and established the New York Board of Motion Picture Censorship, which soon changed its name to the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures to avoid the word “censorship”.
The Board’s stated purpose was to endorse films of merit and champion the new “art of the people”, which was transforming America’s cultural life. In an effort to avoid government censorship of films, the National Board became the unofficial clearinghouse for new movies. From 1916 into the 1950s thousands of motion pictures carried the legend “Passed by the National Board of Review” in their main titles. The board was a de facto censorship organization. Producers submitted their films to the board before making release prints; they agreed to cut any footage that the board found objectionable, up to and including destroying the entire film.
In 1930, the NBR was the first group to choose the 10 best English-language movies of the year and the best foreign films, and is still the first critical body to announce its annual awards. The NBR has also gained international acclaim for its publications: Film Program (1917–1926); Exceptional Photoplays (1920–1925); Photoplay Guide to Better Movies (1924–1926); National Board of Review Magazine (1926–1942); New Movies (1942–1949); and Films in Review, which published its first issue in 1950. Influencing generations of filmmakers and film lovers, these journals have fostered commentary on all aspects of cinema production and history, and contributors have included James Agee, Pearl S. Buck, Alistair Cooke, William K. Everson, Manny Farber, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Harold Robbins, William Saroyan, Dore Schary, and Tennessee Williams.