Readers of this column know that in years past I’ve written about the phony National Board of Review.
Tonight they will hand out their awards at a big gala at Cipriani 42nd St., at which movie fans pay dearly to run elbows with movie stars. A woman named Annie Schulhof runs this gonzo group that has an important sounding name, but in reality is a scam.
The NBR’s Board of Directors, handpicked by Schulhof, includes David Laub, who has a non specified title at A24 Films. So it shouldn’t come has much of a surprise that A24 picked up two major prizes for this year, plus many citations.
Four of the NBR’s top 10 Independent films are from A24. They are “Uncut Gems,” “The Farewell,” “Midsommar,” and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”
Two of the NBR’s top movies of the year are from A24 as well: “Uncut Gems,” and the really awful “Waves.”
More importantly, Adam Sandler of “Uncut Gems” has won their best actor prize. Best Original Screenplay also went to “Uncut Gems.”
It’s a good thing Laub is on the Board of Directors. I’m actually surprised he didn’t get more of A24’s movies, like “The Lighthouse,” into this sketchy endeavor. But Schulhof has other friends to please. And she has to make sure enough studios get awards so they will pay for her tables at Cipriani.
Schulhof has to sell tickets to the dinner since her expenses are so high. See the chart below. Salaries at the NBR are over $300,000, and they’re higher than the previous year. Nice work if you can get it.
The NBR is famous for existing as a fan organization. Their members pay hundreds of dollars to belong, and hundreds more to go to the dinner and get their pictures taken with movie stars. In the movie business they’re considered a joke, but a useful tool to promote movies until the Oscar nominations come in.
At one time they boasted few academics who taught film as part of the group. But they’re all gone now. And Schulhof chooses the winners with a small group of pals based on patronage and friendships, as well as which studio will support her cause. She has a nose for money, which is why Netflix– which she must see as the Golden Goose– nabbed many prizes this year. Not only did she give “The Irishman” best picture, which you could say it deserved, but it got an “NBR Icon Award.” WTF is that?
There are also, as is tradition, three awards for a Clint Eastwood movie, this year’s “Richard Jewell.” Eastwood is guaranteed something every time he makes a movie because NBR board member Jeanine Basinger runs the Clint Eastwood archive at Wesleyan University.