The much maligned National Board of Review chose Amazon’s “Manchester by the Sea” for Best Film, Screenplay, Actor (Casey Affleck) and Breakthrough Performance – Male (Lucas Hedges).
For the first time in more than a decade, the NBR skipped over their favorite person, Clint Eastwood, his movie “Sully,” or anything else from Warner Bros., their longtime favored studio. That may be because Annie Schulhof’s pal, Dan Fellman, retired this year from the studio. So no “Sully,” nothing for Clint or even “Fantastic Beasts.”
Instead, Schulhof concentrated on Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” from her new favorite studio, A24. “Moonlight” earned Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris). That’s interesting in and of itself because the NBR rarely gives full acting honors to black actors. In the past they’ve either tied for an award (Morgan Freeman, in a Clint Eastwood movie) or been thrown the “breakthrough performance” bone.
This year, as usual, a breakthrough performance award went to black actress Royalty Hightower for her work in “The Fits.” They gave Best Ensemble to “Hidden Figures,” about three black women who were the mathematicians for NASA.
The NBR totally ignored a potential Oscar nominee in “Lion” but threw The Weinstein Company a bone by putting “Sing Street” on their list of Best Independent Films.
The NBR is a fan based, membership fee group made up of people who like movies and can afford annual membership of $600 and tickets to the gala dinner in January that cost that much as well. One woman, Annie Schulhof, calls the shots based on relationships with the studios, and who will buy tables for the dinner. “Manchester” deserves the kudos, but also Schulhof knows Amazon will buy those tables. “Moonlight” comes from A24. which has grown in favor with Schulhof because a board member, David Laub, started A24 before jumping ship to another company.
Hey, it’s all good! Last year, the 501 c 3 foundation NBR claimed its revenue was up to $490,000 from $428,000 in 2014. Salaries were $211,250. Grants to places like NYU Film school and the Ringling clown school came to a total of $61,500. student scholarships were $17,500. They have total assets of $850,000. It’s a nice little operation to rub shoulders with celebrities. No film critics allowed! (Very Trumpian.)
Best Film: Manchester by the Sea
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
Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings
Breakthrough Performance (Male): Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Breakthrough Performance (Female):Royalty Hightower, The Fits
Best Directorial Debut: Trey Edward Shults, Krisha
Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
Best Documentary: O.J.: Made in America
Best Ensemble: Hidden Figures
Spotlight Award: Creative Collaboration of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Cameraperson