Wrapping up the first week of Oscar precursors, the prestigious National Board of Review of Motion Pictures (NBR) will pick their favorites today. One of the oldest motion picture groups, having formed in 1909 and presented their first awards twenty years later, the National Board of Review is made up of 110 “select knowledgeable film enthusiasts, academics, filmmakers, and students in the New York metropolitan area” i.e. they’re neither critics nor straight industry folks, which means their choices tend to be somewhat more mainstream and populous, but also somewhat more in line with the Academy since so many members are older, having been with the group for a long time.
They pick ten films to honor every year which often included all five Best Picture nominees when there were only five but have gone a bit off the reservation when the Academy switched to ten a few years back. NBR included Star Trek and Shutter Island in the last few years though neither received an Oscar nomination. In the last ten years, only two of the movies they picked as Best Film have gone onto win the Best Picture at the Oscars–Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and the Coens’ No Country for Old Men–but last year, they astounded many by going with The Social Network, which was also the primary critics’ choice. (NBR have rarely seen fully eye to eye with critics and vice versa in previous years.)
There was a while in the ’00s when NBR would pick the same actor who would go onto win the category at the Oscars, but in recent years, they’ve picked more eclectic choices like Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network, Morgan Freeman for Invictus and who could forget Clint Eastwood winning for his acting in Gran Torino and then for his directing of Invictus? (Many have pointed out that the NBR will often honor the very last movie they saw before voting, which in this case one assumes that would be David Fincher’s The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.) Other than Clint, most of the actors the NBR have picked would at least go on to an Oscar nomination.
Their lead actress picks have also been eclectic and though again, many of them were nominated for the Oscars, they’ve only picked two winners who’ve won the Oscar in the last ten years and last year’s selection, Lesley Manville for her performance in Mike Leigh’s Another Year, wasn’t even nominated by the Academy. Similarly, very few of their Supporting Actor and Actress picks have gone on to win on Oscar night, which some assume is because they vote so early every year.
So who might they pick this year?
We think the three frontrunners should get a lot of support, and the NBR awards will be split between Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, although we think they might follow the New York Film Critics Circle’s example by awarding the top honor to The Artist.
They’ll probably either go with Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady or Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn in the Lead Actress category but probably go with either George Clooney or Jean DuJardin for Lead Actor, probably the former since he’d be a far more prestigious guest for their awards dinner.
Either way, the results should be interesting and even if there’s some consensus with the New York film critics, there’s still a chance that something else could find favor with the Academy, who are in the industry and have other criteria for selecting their winners.
Check back later today for the full list of NBR winners!