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National Board of Review Preview – Are New Shiny Toys Going to Influence the Group?

the-hateful-eight-bruce-dern-01-636-380On Tuesday, the National Board of Review will be the first major precursor of the “trifecta” (NBR, NYFCC, LAFCA) to reveal their winners of the best in 2015.  In year’s past, the NBR has the power of launching certain films into the Oscar race and assure themselves nominations.  Look at past winners like Marc Foster’s “Finding Neverland” or George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” as films that cemented their feet in the race without any major win to come after.  There are other years where they make insightful, eclectic choices that don’t get much gas out of it.  Look at winners like Philip Kaufman’s “Quills” or last year’s “A Most Violent Year” from J.C. Chandor.  The good news is, NBR matches with Oscar more often than not, at least in their Picture winners.

This year, we know they will have an opportunity to see everything except for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”  The last three big hitters are already screening for guild and critics with heavy embargoes in place, while screeners have been hitting doorsteps for weeks.  Let’s look at their last fifteen winners to see if we find a trend:

  • 2014 – “A Most Violent Year” (A24) – J.C. Chandor
  • 2013 – “Her” (Warner Bros.) – Spike Jonze
  • 2012 – “Zero Dark Thirty” (Sony Pictures) – Kathryn Bigelow
  • 2011 – “Hugo” (Paramount Pictures) – Martin Scorsese
  • 2010 – “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures) – David Fincher
  • 2009 – “Up in the Air” (Paramount Pictures) – Jason Reitman
  • 2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight Pictures) – Danny Boyle
  • 2007 – “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax) – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • 2006 – “Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.) – Clint Eastwood
  • 2005 – “Good Night, and Good Luck” (Warner Independent Pictures) – George Clooney
  • 2004 – “Finding Neverland” (Miramax) – Marc Foster
  • 2003 – “Mystic River” (Warner Bros.) – Clint Eastwood
  • 2002 – “The Hours” (Miramax) – Stephen Daldry
  • 2001 – “Moulin Rouge!” (20th Century Fox) – Baz Luhrmann
  • 2000 – “Quills” (Fox Searchlight Pictures) – Philip Kaufman

7c8f369f-f42f-465e-beec-52e29ee78aae-1020x612Based on that list, they either like to make a statement or go with the steamroller that will run the gauntlet throughout the season.  This year, I’d say if they don’t go with Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” then the group will likely be looking to make a statement with their choice.  The shiny new toy will be David O. Russell’s “Joy” and Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” which would have both screened for them recently.  Same can be said for Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “The Revenant.”

If they’re feeling ambitious and rooting for the “little guy” in the room, Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” or John Crowley’s “Brooklyn” can surely make a play for the top prize.  A huge boost would be in store for Todd Haynes’ “Carol” if it managed a win as would Danny Boyle’s “Steve Jobs.”

Looking at “out there” choices, could the group rally around Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s “Anomalisa,” which feels in the same vein as “Her?”  Or could they throw a wrench in the works with F. Gary Gray’s “Straight Outta Compton” or George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road?”

Down below, you can see the best guesses for the winners tomorrow:

BEST FILM – “Spotlight”
ALTERNATE: “Brooklyn”

BEST DIRECTOR – Steven Spielberg – “Bridge of Spies”
ALTERNATE: Quentin Tarantino – “The Hateful Eight”

BEST ACTOR – Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Revenant”
ALTERNATE: Ian McKellen – “Mr. Holmes”

BEST ACTRESS – Saoirse Ronan – “Brooklyn”
ALTERNATE: Jennifer Lawrence – “Joy”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Idris Elba – “Beasts of No Nation”
ALTERNATE: Paul Dano – “Love & Mercy”

ALTERNATE: Rooney Mara – “Carol”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – “Inside Out” – Pete Docter, Bob Petersen
ALTERNATE: “Spotlight” – Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – “The Revenant” – Alejandro G. Inarritu, Mark L. Smith
ALTERNATE: “Anomalisa” – Charlie Kaufman

ALTERNATE: “Black Mass”

ALTERNATE: “Inside Out”

ALTERNATE: “Winter on Fire”

BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT – Alfonso Gomez-Rejon – “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl”

ALTERNATE: “Son of Saul”

Top 10 FILMS

  • “Anomalisa”
  • “Bridge of Spies”
  • “Carol”
  • “Creed”
  • “The Danish Girl”
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road”
  • “The Martian”
  • “Sicario”
  • “Spotlight”
  • “Trumbo”

Share your guesses in the comments below!

What do you think?

Film Lover

Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


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