NBR Analysis: Best Picture Race is ‘Green Book’ vs. ‘A Star is Born’ – Cooper’s Film Made NBR History Today

The National Board of Review announced their winners today and offered up some direction to the awards season race, just a day after the Gotham Awards weighed in on Monday.

Here are some highlights, tidbits, and thoughts on the winners:

Universal Pictures’ “Green Book” got a huge boost today after performing sub-standard at the box office.  It was something it needed going into the big three awards in this early stage.  Peter Farrelly’s film won Best Film along with Viggo Mortensen taking honors in Best Actor ahead of competitors Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper.  This will bode well for the audience pleaser as it continues its roll towards the Oscars with multiple Audience prizes at various festivals including TIFF.

The next big winner, for which anyone can argue was the actual biggest winner of the day, was Warner Bros’ “A Star is Born,” which took honors for Director Bradley Cooper, Best Actress for Lady Gaga, and Supporting Actor for Sam Elliott.  The film also mustered its way into the Top Films of the year, bringing its overall total mentions to four.  According to our research, it now ties Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” and David Fincher’s “The Social Network” as the most awarded film in NBR history.  Reitman’s film won prizes for Film, Actor (George Clooney), Supporting Actress (Anna Kendrick), and Adapted Screenplay.  The movie would go onto 7 Oscar nominations but winning zero by the evening’s end.  Fincher’s social media masterpiece took home wins in Film, Director, Lead Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), and Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin).  Coincidentally, Cooper’s film is now the most awarded NBR film to NOT win Best Film.

What does all this mean for the third remake of the 1937 classic?  Well, if other films that have mustered three individual wins at NBR have gone on to Oscar attention and won including “Howard’s End” and “Forrest Gump.”  Only one film has won three prizes at NBR and did not translate to an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, and that was J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year” in 2014.

Annapurna Pictures has to be smiling today as well as “If Beale Street Could Talk” from Barry Jenkins picked up two citations for Regina King in Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay.  As many sites, including AwardsCircuit, have speculated, these seem to be the two most likely areas for the emotional drama to be recognized.  The film was also mentioned in the Top Films listing.

Just less than 24 hours after nearly cleaning up at the Gotham Awards, A24’s “First Reformed” has found a road to multiple citations from the Academy.  From writer/director Paul Schrader, the drama picked up a prize for Original Screenplay along with a Top Films citation.  Schrader, who has written such classics such as 1976’s “Taxi Driver” and 1980’s “Raging Bull,” has never been nominated for an Academy Award.  If this isn’t shocking enough, his overall awards resume hasn’t included many overall citations from various groups and guilds (only one nom by WGA, seven from Indie Spirits, and 2 Golden Globe nods over his entire career).  With “First Reformed” getting a second wind, the narrative for Schrader’s first nomination is in the cards now, along with star Ethan Hawke making a play for a Best Actor nomination, hoping to edge out presumed contenders Ryan Gosling (“First Man”) and Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody“).

What’s interesting about “First Reformed” new found successes, is that it looks to be battling the same pathway to a screenplay nomination with Bo Burnham‘s “Eighth Grade” which won Debut Director both at NBR today and the Gothams yesterday.  With three presumed spots seemingly saved for films like “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” and “Roma,” we also are assuming that another spot could be locking in for Adam McKay’s “Vice” after screening in New York and Los Angeles over the Thanksgiving break (although it should be noted that the film was also shutout at NBR).  If proved true, that could leave just one spot for popular writers like Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life“), Peter Hedges (“Ben is Back“), and The Coen Brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs“) to fight out with Burnham and Schrader.

Speaking of things not doing too well, there were some bruises given today to various films and studios.  One year after Fox Searchlight was completely shut out at NBR, including the eventual Best Picture winner “The Shape of Water,” the studio picked up two mentions today for Marielle Heller‘s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” in Top Films and David Lowery’s “The Old Man & the Gun” in Top 10 Independent Films.  Their presumed pony “The Favourite” from Yorgos Lanthimos, was shut out today.  Coincidentally, the Fox Searchlight’s holiday party takes place in New York City tonight, which also happened last year after their shutout which made for an “awkward” affair.

If Fox Searchlight was bruised today, Focus Features was left bloody.  The adult drama studio found one single mention in the Top 5 Documentaries category for “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”  All of their big contenders including “BlackKklansman” from Spike Lee, “Boy Erased” from Joel Edgerton, and “On the Basis of Sex” from Mimi Leder found no love from the New York body.  The studio that has brought Oscar wins for Ang Lee, Alicia Vikander, and Eddie Redmayne will be hoping for a bounceback Thursday at NYFCC or next week with LAFCA.

While Universal Pictures is ecstatic about “Green Book” winning Best Film, their other movie “First Man” pulled a donut today, missing out on a Top 10 mention and for its stars Gosling and Claire Foy.  With a disappointing box office, the film seemed to have lost the gloat it had leaving the Telluride Film Festival.  Still assumed to do very well in the tech races, the Damien Chazelle film will be looking for significant love and the way critics groups tend to vote, it may not get that reassurance until the major guilds start weighing (i.e., ASC, ACE Eddies, etc..).

Other blips of life today were given to Rob Marshall‘s “Mary Poppins Returns” and Ryan Coogler‘s “Black Panther,” which both showed up in the Top 10 films (which should make Disney happy) and Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” found love in Ensemble over predicted winner 20th Century Fox’s “Widows,” which was also given the cold shoulder.  Paramount Pictures must be sighing some relief after John Krasinski‘s “A Quiet Place” popped up in the Top 10, keeping hope alive for not just a Best Picture play but perhaps screenplay and Supporting Actress hopeful Emily Blunt (who hopes to pull double duty with “Poppins”).

Magnolia Pictures is smiling that “RBG” beat out the Mr. Rogers juggernaut while Hulu managed two docs in the Top 5 with “Crime + Punishment” and “Minding the Gap.”

Netflix must be satisfied that “Roma” popped up in the Top 10, alongside “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” but also that Paul Greengrass‘ “22 July” was awarded the Freedom of Expression Award.

The indie circuit is hoping to stay in the conversation with films like “The Death of Stalin” from IFC Films and “The Rider” from Sony Pictures Classics (following a surprise upset at the Gothams) popping up but A24 is the studio that seemed to be waiting to see how Phase 1 would shake out for their field.  Given that the studio nearly swept the Gothams, and now “First Reformed” is gearing up for a bigger play than anticipated, look for them to rev up their campaign efforts for “Hereditary” and Toni Collette along with “Lean on Pete” and “Mid90s” included.

Amazon Studios walked away with “Cold War” winning Foreign Language, with a nod to “You Were Never Really Here” among the independent films but “Beautiful Boy” and “Suspiria” were nowhere to be found.

With that, we move to Thursday’s New York Film Critics Circle, which is already predicted on The Circuit Hub.  Not looking to change anything up given what NBR just did, we’re still looking for “Roma” to make an impressive showing there with possibilities for Toni Collette and Ethan Hawke to stretch out their lucky Gotham wins.  This is also a place where “The Favourite” can bounce back for its cast, most notably for Olivia Colman.

As a friendly reminder, Oscar Predictions are updated every Sunday at midnight.  No changes will be reflected on the Circuit Hub until then.

Include your thoughts and commentary on the awards race so far in the comments below.

Be sure to check out the Official Oscar Predictions Page to see where these films and performances rank among the contenders!

What do you think?


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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