What do the National Board of Review Awards say about the Oscar race?


Moreso than the Gotham Awards (which went down Monday night), the National Board of Review Awards are truly an awards-season/Oscar harbinger. While the NBRs aren’t necessarily famous for picking the winners straight down the line, they often help solidify the field and they influence which films and which actors are seen as the “frontrunners” in various categories. This year’s NBRs are interesting because Manchester by the Sea has officially pulled ahead as the frontrunner for Best Picture. They’re also interesting because Moonlight is quietly waging a very effective campaign, and because out of nowhere, Amy Adams picked up a Best Actress Award. Here’s the list of 2017 National Board of Review winners (via Vulture & Variety):

Best Picture: Manchester by the Sea

Top Films of the Year:
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hail, Caesar!”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Patriots Day”

Spotlight Award: Creative Collaboration of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg

Best Director
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress
Amy Adams, Arrival

Best Supporting Actor
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Best Supporting Actress
Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence

Breakthrough Performance (Male)
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Best Documentary
O.J.: Made in America

Best Ensemble
Hidden Figures

So… no Viola Davis. Naomie Harris is the only actor of color, although I think the National Board of Review probably reasoned that they were okay with that because they awarded African-American director Barry Jenkins with the director award. Speaking of diversity, how is it that Loving wasn’t recognized for anything? I thought Ruth Negga’s performance was being shortlisted all over the place? I thought critics agreed that Loving was a beautiful film? But Loving didn’t even make the NBR’s “top film” list… and yet Hail, Caesar and Sully made the shortlist? HMM.

What else can I say? I saw Arrival and I enjoyed the movie and Amy’s performance, but I didn’t walk out of the movie thinking that she was a lock for an Oscar (or even an Oscar nomination). It feels like there’s the potential for a “it’s her time” campaign to be waged, but I just don’t know if they want to do that for Arrival. I kind of think Emma Stone and Natalie Portman are going to be much bigger Best Actress contenders, but we’ll see.




Photos courtesy of Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, WENN.

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43 Responses to “What do the National Board of Review Awards say about the Oscar race?”

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  1. Nemera77 says:

    Moonlight was close to a “perfect film”. If this was any other cast the entire group would have been recognized.. Just typical

    Manchester by the Sea.. (I haven’t seen it yet but will).. looks like a snooze fest to me; just feel like the usual film that is for Oscar. It reminds me of the over hype of some of the previous winners; that I will add are not even talked about now. Boyhood, Spotlight, Bird Man, The Artist (these movies to me were typical and won. but nothing special in hind sight IMO)

    I rooting for Moonlight. But I don’t think it will get is due. Because it is a movie that can change things.

    • crtb says:

      Did you see Loving? The acting in that was close to perfect.

      • Dee Kay says:

        Agreed. Loving had very little dialogue, the actors conveyed everything with how they stood, sat, how they looked at each other, how they held one another. Phenomenal screen performances by the leads. And the supporting cast was excellent, also.

    • Pam_L says:

      I’m with you with “Manchester by the Sea.” I don’t like movies pushed down my throat like everybody and their mama are doing with that film.

      “Moonlight” is on my list of most sees.

      “Hell or High Water” surprised me by how very good it is. Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster all give great performances and the script is tight, but Ben Foster steals the show. That movie was still with me days after I saw it. I thought the final scene in the film between Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine was just about as good as two actors can do playing off each other. I’m glad to see this film made the list .

      • Dee Kay says:

        I really feel like all four main actors (the two cops and the two outlaws), and the screenwriter and director, of Hell and High Water deserve Oscar nominations. So far, for me, that film is the best of the year, and this is shaping up to be a year of strong contenders.

      • JulP says:

        Agreed, I loved Hell or High Water. I hadn’t even heard of it until I read Lainey’s review (she also loved it). I was surprised by how good Chris Pine was, and Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster were great as always

  2. SnazzyisAlive says:

    Batfleck Jr has a serious case of resting douche face. He shouldn’t be nominated on that criteria alone

    • SusanneToo says:

      He came across very well on CBS Sunday Morning last weekend. Much more so than his brother ever does.

      • teacakes says:

        Shame about the sexual harassment though.

      • SnazzyisAlive says:

        Ya, it’s the harassment thing that really turns me off with this guy. Another on the boycott list (getting longer every day *sigh*)

      • Lindsey says:

        Slate had a very interesting piece on that: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/11/23/it_s_oscar_season_casey_affleck_s_ugly_past_is_finally_getting_scrutinized.html

        They were talking about Birth Of A Nation and how Nate Parker and his rape allegation, the revelation that his alleged victim end up taking her own life, and his inability to show any empathy, true personal growth, or even offer an apology of any sort killed all the award show buzz it had surrounding it leading up to the premier. They compare that to Casey Affleck’s checkered alleged history of sexual harassment and misconduct and how for Nate Parker the allegations were front and center and for Affleck they are hidden at the end of the article if the journalist chooses to mention it at all.

        They also discuss this relatively new phenomenon of damaging bad behavior being brought back to the forefront during award season and campaigning and if an individual’s past should exclude him or her from consideration because the awards are about the movie, not the real life of the actors in them. But on the other hand should society allowance sexual predator to be normalized and glorified at a time when sexual assault is finally being taken very seriously (as it should).

        I had to deal with it two days after Thanksgiving from my BIL. Ick. It is neither her nor there but I wanted to somewhat anonymously get that off my chest.

        I do think it’s great it is finally entering into the discussion. Character should matter, especially when your personal failings leave victims in their wake.

    • Jellybean says:

      He has the most grating voice, but he is a d**n good actor. I watched The Assassination of Jessie James again last week and he is superbly creepy.

  3. lightpurple says:

    I have no idea why Hail, Caesar is even on that list. Amy’s performance in Arrival really didn’t blow me away. The film seemed to me like a continuation of Interstellar somehow with Amy carrying on Jessica Chastain’s part. I agree with the Best Supporting nods. Naomie is very good in Moonlight. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Hell or High Water and Bridges is doing what Bridges does but he excels at doing what he does. Manchester by the Sea is one of the most heartbreaking, most painful films I have ever seen.

  4. Nicole says:

    Once again a mediocre all white movie over a movie stacked with diversity. Typical.

    These picks seem to go against everything predicted so far so I won’t put much stock into it.

  5. SusanneToo says:

    Arrival was okay. That’s all it was. Certainly not awards caliber.

    • Jellybean says:

      Amy’s performance in Arrival was the sort of subtle and natural performance I love and it was a great role, so I am pleased she has been recognized. I don’t think she will win, but if it means she is a lock for a nomination, then I am happy.

    • Kathleen says:

      @SusanneToo…see I had a totally different reaction. I was blown away by Arrival and how thoughtful it was. The ending knocked me over and I have never loved Amy more in a role. I’m not shocked at all that she’s in the conversation here.

      • Dee Kay says:

        I loved Adams in Arrival and if she won the Oscar, I’d say it was well-deserved, but it seems like the kind of performance (quiet, nuanced, subtle) and the kind of film (genre, sci-fi) that the Academy doesn’t reward.

      • Bella bella says:

        I loved Arrival, too! I’m not a fan of sci fi but I loved the intelligent, beautiful, mind-twisty aspects of the movie.

      • Jellybean says:

        It is worth looking up Cate Blanchett’s speech from earlier this week, when she presented Amy Adams at the Gotham Awards. Her comments about Arrival and Amy’s acting in general, show just how highly she is regarded by her peers. The actors have huge respect for her talent, the directors and producers love her work ethic and the crew love that she is so kind and respectful of their contribution. Obviously there is a big overlap as to why individuals love her, but they all really do seem to love her. If love like that won an oscar for Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side, then it must be possible that Amy will get an oscar for Arrival, even with the prejudice against sci-fi and subtle, nuanced performances.

  6. Louise177 says:

    If I remember correctly NBR isn’t that big of a deal. They usually award some non-buzz films and minor surprises. I think it’s too early to think certain films and performances aren’t going to be rewarded during the season.

    • Jellybean says:

      I just read a discussion about this on awardswatch. As far as the best actress is concerned, their hit rate seems to be better than most at predicting oscar winners, but they still get it wrong more often than they get it right. They got the last two right for best actress though.

  7. giulia says:

    O.J. Made in America was great hope it wins during awards season

  8. Jayna says:

    I can’t wait to see Manchester by the Sea. I stopped reading the reviews, so I didn’t know too much. Plus, I worried the reviews would lead me to disappointment from all the high expectations instead of going in and discovering the little film on
    my own and it exceeding my expectations. One reviewer said that won’t happen with this movie. It’s as great as the glowing reviews say. No letdown.

    • lightpurple says:

      It is a very quiet, little film with good performances from Affleck, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Moll, and Lucas Hedges. Hedges gives the film some comedy, which it needs.

  9. sanders says:

    Why does Casey Affleck get a pass for his sexual harassment settlement? For all those who were boycotting Nat Turner, I hope the same applies to Manchester by the Sea. Check out the Buzz Feed article by Amy Zimmerman. The white, male privilege is off the charts with this guy and now that he is a front runner for an oscar, any redemption or remorse for the sexual harassment he carried out is slim to none.
    I know that hollywood is a hideous, misogynistic cesspool, but I’m still shocked when I read accounts of how women are treated.

    • Tallia says:

      This ^^

    • Fiorella says:

      Seeing both movies. On Netflix at least. I don’t boycott if I would like to see something. But I think what Nate did was super super bad. He asked his friend to rape the chick she was sleeping with while she was passed out or something close to passed out. Then he harassed her and showed no remorse for her suicide. Much worse than affleck, Sean penn, Mel Gibson , Matthew Broderick all those have done worse than affleck by the way and they aren’t shunned. Too bad as Parker is hot and perhaps talented (haven’t seen it) but his crime was quite serious

  10. JulP says:

    From what I understand, the NBR tends to buck trends as far as nominations go (and clearly that is the case, given that Hail Caesar! is on their list of top films) , so I think Ruth Negga is still a lock for Loving (both her and Joel Edgerton were amazing in that film. Their acting elevated what I thought was a rather mediocre film overall. And I really appreciated the subtly of their performances).

    I loved Arrival, but agree with other posters that Amy’s performance didn’t strike me as Oscar-worthy. I did think her performance in Nocturnal Animals is deserving of a nomination (seriously, someone from that film better get a damn nomination, it was one of the best films I’ve seen in the last five years and every performance was amazing (even Aaron Taylor-Johnson!))

    Dying to see Moonlight, I’ve heard such great things about it! And every time I see the trailer for Fences I tear up when Viola comes on screen, so looking forward to that as well. This is definitely a great year for film, and it will certainly be interesting to see who ends up with nominations

  11. Rocío says:

    I love Arrival and Amy deserves the Oscar. Such a poignant performance. Perfect.

  12. thecookingpan says:

    ¿Che? Hail, Caesar? I couldn’t even watch it to the end???

  13. Kathleen says:

    I absolutely loved Arrival and I full on ugly cried for the last 10 minutes. I thought Amy was incredible in the role so I don’t know why this is a surprise to anyone that she’s coming out a frontrunner. I knew she should be a quiet frontrunner as soon as I saw the movie. I have not seen Nocturnal Animals yet but I’ve heard she’s great in that too.

    Seriously though. Everyone needs to go see Arrival. It’s smart, thoughtful sci-fi. No explosions. No crazy violence. Just a quiet, thoughtful beautiful movie about communication with an ending that will leave you moved and in tears.

  14. Tallia says:

    Moonlight is the best movie of the year IMHO. I still cannot stop thinking about it. The whole cast was epic for me. Anyone else wondering why Casey Affleck is not getting the same attention Nate Parker received? The “allegations” against Affleck were/are…

  15. QQ says:

    PUSH THROUGH MOONLIGHT!!! ( Made right in Miami FUBU!!!!!!!!!!)

  16. Josefina says:

    I watched Arrival and while it was good, I definitely don’t think it’s the masterpiece it’s being made out to be (my bf thought it’s one of the best movies of the decade so far). But I support the idea of the Academy raving over a smartly-written sci-fi movie with a well-written female lead. Arrival was an original movie, unlike most of those WWII somniferous dramas they so passionately jerk off to.

    Casey Affleck is gross and I always thought his movie looked like some boring, pretentious hipster mess I didn’t want to watch anyway.

    Hail, Caesar! is definitely one of the weakest Coen films to date. The movie had horrible pacing issues and the writing didn’t have that twisted wit the Coens are so well known for. It dissapointed me so much, because Fargo and NCFOM are definitely within my top 10 films of their decades (Fargo might as well be my favorite film of the ’90s).

  17. dq says:

    I love Amy. Hopefully this year an actual decent actress wins.

  18. prince says:

    casey affleck is a sexual predator but since he is white, there are zero consequences.

    • SusanneToo says:

      That’s very funny, given your support of sexual predator/alleged rapist donald trump on the other thread.

  19. paranormalgirl says:

    Hidden Figures was an amazing film. I got lucky to have seen a screener.

  20. SwanLake says:

    I avoid movies with Amy Adams as much as possible. I needed five showers after seeing so much of her in American Hustle.

  21. JFresh says:

    I haven’t seen any of these, jeez what is happening to me