The National Board of Review announced the best in film in 2019, adding to the growing conversation of pre-Oscar awards and accolades that might speak to who will take home the coveted Academy Awards. The NBR is made up of filmmakers, critics, academics, and more. The organization also facilitates screenings and discussions, hands out grants to emerging filmmakers, and helps catapult films into a more publicized consciousness. This year, they gave Martin Scorsese‘s epic The Irishman their coveted Best Film prize — but what else went down in the organization’s picks?
The NBR created a new award this year, the NBR Icon Award, designed to honor “the work of leading cinematic artists who have contributed meaningfully to the history, culture, and excellence of motion pictures.” And wouldn’t ya know it — they’re giving it to Scorsese, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro for their work on The Irishman! But that ain’t the only movie getting love from the NBR. Uncut Gems made a surprising play, earning Best Screenplay and Actor awards while being named one of the Best Films. Renée Zellweger deservedly won Best Actress for Judy. The Irishman‘s Netflix buddies Dolemite Is My Name and Marriage Story were also named Best Films, but neither received any individual awards. Parasite won Best Foreign Language Film, but wasn’t named one of the year’s best films overall (which is nuts!). The NBR Freedom of Expression award, given to films that best convey the spirit of social change and communication, went to the Jamie Foxx/Michael B. Jordan-starring Just Mercy and For Sama, a documentary about the Aleppo crisis. And per usual, the NBR gave specialty shout-outs to independent cinema and documentaries, honoring works like The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Apollo 11.
And what got snubbed? There’s absolutely no mentioning of acclaimed works like Joker or Little Women. Avengers: Endgame seems not to have crossed the Marvel threshold for critical respect. And works expected to receive individual acting and/or screenplay accolades (like Marriage Story or Waves) only received the general best of the year distinction. How will this all affect the Oscar race? Time — and plenty more awards to be given out — will tell.
Check out the full list of the National Board of Review’s winners below.
Best Film: The Irishman
Best Director: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Best Actor: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems
Best Actress: Renée Zellweger, Judy
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Best Supporting Actress: Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Best Original Screenplay: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein, Uncut Gems
Best Adapted Screenplay: Steven Zaillian, The Irishman
Breakthrough Performance: Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell
Best Directorial Debut: Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim
Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Best Foreign Language Film: Parasite
Best Documentary: Maiden
Best Ensemble: Knives Out
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Roger Deakins, 1917
NBR Icon Award: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, The Irishman
NBR Freedom of Expression: For Sama, Just Mercy
Top Films: 1917, Dolemite is My Name, Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Richard Jewell, Uncut Gems, Waves
Top 5 Documentaries: American Factory, Apollo 11, The Black Godfather, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, Wrestle
Top Ten Independent Films: The Farewell, Give Me Liberty, A Hidden Life, Judy, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Midsommar, The Nightingale, The Peanut Butter Falcon, The Souvenir, Wild Rose