Friday, April 19, 2024

“Manchester by the Sea” Named Best Film by National Board of Review, Nothing for Clint Eastwood First Time in Years


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

Top Films


Hacksaw Ridge

Hail, Caesar!

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land


Patriot’s Day



Top 5 Foreign Language Films


The Handmaiden


Land of Mine


Top 5 Documentaries

De Palma

The Eagle Huntress


Life, Animated

Miss Sharon Jones!

Top 10 Independent Films

20th Century Women

Captain Fantastic

Creative Control

Eye in the Sky

The Fits

Green Room

Hello, My Name is Doris


Morris from America

Sing Street

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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