The National Board of Review announced their annual list of winners on Tuesday, and Spike Lee‘s Da 5 Bloods won three top awards, including Best Film.
To be honest, I’m a bit surprised, for as much as I liked Da 5 Bloods, I thought the film fell apart in its third act. Then again, I thought the same about Parasite, and that went on to win Best Picture last year, so what do I know? The fact that NBR also gave its Best Director trophy to Lee and recognized the film’s ensemble indicates there was a landslide of support for the Netflix movie, which was released way back in June.
Having said that, I love all four of NBR’s acting winners — Riz Ahmed (Best Actor) and Paul Raci (Best Supporting Actor) from Sound of Metal, Carey Mulligan from Promising Young Woman, and Youn Yuh-jung, who played the charming grandmother in Minari. Elsewhere, newcomer Sidney Flanigan was recognized for her breakthrough performance in Never Rarely Sometimes Always.
Minari and News of the World took home the screenplay prizes, while Channing Godfrey Peoples won Best Directorial Debut for her acclaimed movie Miss Juneteenth, which I still have to see. I did catch Pixar’s Soul, which won Best Animated Feature, though I personally enjoyed Onward a bit more.
Elsewhere, Amazon’s Time was named Best Documentary, the Guatemalan film La Llorona won Best Foreign Language Film, and Joshua James Richards won the cinematography prize for his gorgeous work on Nomadland.
The National Board of Review also named its Top Films of the Year, in addition to the Top 5 Foreign Language Films, the Top 5 Documentaries and the Top 10 Independent Films. The Romanian film Collective was voted to the foreign language list but not the documentary list, which included audience favorites such as Boys State, Dick Johnson Is Dead and The Truffle Hunters. As for NBR’s favorite indies of the year, I recommend the dysfunctional buddy comedy The Climb, Rod Lurie‘s war drama The Outpost and the teen abortion drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always.
I was also relieved to see Sound of Metal, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman and Minari make NBR’s list of Top Films, as those were my 2020 favorites as well, though I don’t know how The Midnight Sky managed to crack the list, as George Clooney‘s Netflix drama was a bit of a mess in my opinion.
Finally, the organization honored the late Chadwick Boseman with its Icon Award, which was well-deserved given the actor’s work in Da 5 Bloods and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Meanwhile, Radha Blank won the NBR Spotlight Award for writing, directing, producing and starring in The Forty-Year-Old Version, and Regina King‘s One Night in Miami won the organization’s Freedom of Expression Award. The latter remains a major Oscar contender despite not making NBR’s list of Top Films.
See below for a full list of NBR winners:
Best Film: Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Best Director: Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Best Actor: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Best Supporting Actress: Youn Yuh-jung, Minari (A24)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies, News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Best Original Screenplay: Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (A24)
Breakthrough Performance: Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features)
Best Directorial Debut: Channing Godfrey Peoples, Miss Juneteenth (Vertical Entertainment)
Best Animated Feature: Soul (Pixar)
Best Foreign Language Film: La Llorona (Guatemala)
Best Documentary: Time (Amazon Studios)
NBR Icon Award: Chadwick Boseman
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: One Night in Miami
NBR Spotlight Award: Radha Blank for writing, directing, producing and starring in The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)
Best Ensemble: Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Joshua James Richards, Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
Top Films (in alphabetical order):
First Cow (A24)
The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)
Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
The Midnight Sky (Netflix)
News of the World (Universal Pictures)
Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order):
The Mole Agent
Night of the Kings
Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order):
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Dick Johnson is Dead
The Truffle Hunters
Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order):
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
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