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National Board of Review honors “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Martian”, and more

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Just moments ago, the National Board of Review announced their 2015 awards. In a bit of surprise, Mad Max: Fury Road took their Best Film prize, while Matt Damon and Ridley Scott gave The Martian the best showing overall, taking Best Actor and Best Director, respectively. NBR’s winners are always noteworthy as a major precursor, and this is obviously no exception. We’re seeing the first group of winners help to potentially sway Academy members, so this is an important moment here on the very first day of December. Oscar takes notice of this precursor to some degree, that much is certain. It’s just a question of how much…

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Obviously, some now will wonder if Mad Max: Fury Road can be a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars. Considering that it was its only prize, this isn’t somehow suddenly a lock. Does it help? Sure. Is it a done deal? Of course not. Even just last year, A Most Violent Year took this top prize and wound up getting shut out. George Miller’s epic won’t be shut out, likely scoring in a few technical categories, but it still seems like a long shot for Picture. A nomination could be in the cards if it continues to show up on the precursor scene, but nothing is certain. You can’t deny that this is a boost though for the flick. It can certainly build on this win and try to get more seriously into the race. We’ll have to hold steady there in that regard though and see what happens. The guilds will probably make or break it, if I had to guess.

The best day overall though was had by The Martian. Taking three prizes (plus showing up on the Top Ten list) gives this a huge boost. Some folks, like me, have floated Ridley Scott as a potential Best Director winner, and this victory here will help that cause out a great deal. Matt Damon in Best Actor is a surprise, and while I doubt this will fuel him for a win, a nomination is getting more and more likely, with the same being said for Drew Goddard, who won here for Best Adapted Screenplay. A huge boost goes to Sylvester Stallone for Creed as well, as he could wind up the frontrunner before all is said and done. Jennifer Jason Leigh took Best Supporting Actress for The Hateful Eight, while Quentin Tarantino won Best Original Screenplay for that flick as well. Other winners included Brie Larson in Best Actress for Room (probably the undisputed frontrunner now), Inside Out for Best Animated Feature, Son of Saul for Best Foreign Language Film, and Amy for Best Documentary.


If you’re looking for potentially glaring omissions, you can point to Anamolisa, Brooklyn, Carol, The Danish Girl, Joy, The Revenant, and Steve Jobs being among the movies shut out. It’s not clear if any are especially hurt by these snubs, but they all could certainly have used the help. Joy only debuted a few days ago, so it’s the new kid on the block. The Revenant missing is a bit surprising, as is Carol, but time will tell if they bounce back quickly or not. I suspect they will, especially the latter, which has done well on the precursor circuit so far. The season is still pretty young, so you can’t make any truly defining statements just yet. Sit tight for that…

Here now is the complete list of National Board of Review winners:

Best Film: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Director: Ridley Scott – The Martian
Best Actor: Matt Damon – The Martian
Best Actress: Brie Larson – Room
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Best Adapted Screenplay: Drew Goddard – The Martian
Best Animated Feature: Inside Out
Breakthrough Performance: Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation & Jacob Tremblay – Room
Best Directorial Debut: Jonas Carpignano – Mediterranea
Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul
Best Documentary: Amy
William K. Everson Film History Award: Cecilia De Mille Presley
Best Ensemble: The Big Short
Spotlight Award: Sicario for Outstanding Collaborative Vision
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Beasts of No Nation & Mustang

Top Films
(Mad Max: Fury Road)
Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
The Martian
Straight Outta Compton

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Goodnight Mommy
The Second Mother
The Tribe

Top 5 Documentaries
Best of Enemies
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
The Diplomat
Listen to Me Marlon
The Look of Silence

Top 10 Independent Films
45 Years
Cop Car
Ex Machina
It Follows
James White
Mississippi Grind
Welcome to Me
While We’re Young

Stay tuned to see if these NBR winners can march on to Oscar nominations and/or wins!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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