National Board of Review awards: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ wins Best Picture, ‘The Martian’ takes 3, ‘Hateful Eight’ 2

The National Board of Review announced its winners on Tuesday. “Mad Max: Fury Road” won Best Picture while “The Martian” claimed Best Director (Ridley Scott), Actor (Matt Damon) and Adapted Screenplay. “The Hateful Eight” won Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Original Screenplay for director Quentin Tarantino

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Best Actress went to Oscar frontrunner Brie Larson (“Room“) while Sylvester Stallone won Supporting Actor for his buzzed-about performance in “Creed.” 

All four films featuring acting champs made the NBR’s list of “Top Films” as did “Bridge of Spies,” Animated Feature winner “Inside Out,” our Oscar frontrunner “Spotlight,” “Sicario” and “Straight Outta Compton.” 

Sicario” also won the Spotlight Award for “outstanding collaborative vision.” 

Beasts of No Nation” won the Freedom of Expression Award and star Abraham Attah shared in the Breakthrough Performance prize with Jacob Tremblay (“Room”). 

The Big Short” won the Ensemble Award. 

Best Foreign-Language Film went to “Son of Saul” while Best Documentary Feature was “Amy.” Both  are considered strong contenders in those categories at the Oscars. 

Among our top 10 contenders for Best Picture at the Oscars, the NBR snubbed five of them. In order of our ranking, they are: #2 “The Revenant”; #4 “Joy”; #6 “Carol”; #8 “Brooklyn” and #9 “Steve Jobs.”  

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If you are a fan of one or more of these, don’t despair. This group of film scholars has a spotty record at crystalballing the Oscars. Last year, the NBR went its own way by naming “A Most Violent Year” as Best Picture with one of its stars, Oscar Isaac, tying for Best Actor and the other, Jessica Chastainclaiming Best Supporting Actress. None of these NBR winners went on even to be nominated at the Oscars.

At the NBR, “Birdman” — which went on to win the top Oscar — tied for Best Actor (Michael Keaton), won Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton) and made the list of NBR’s top 10 films along with “American Sniper,” “Boyhood,” “Fury,” “Gone Girl,” “The Imitation Game,” “Inherent Vice,” “The Lego Movie,” “Nightcrawler,” and “Unbroken.” 

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Only four of these 10 —  “American Sniper,” “Birdman,” “Boyhood” and “The Imitation Game” — numbered in the eight Best Picture nominees. Three of the other four Oscar Best Picture contenders — “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Whiplash” —   were completely shut out by the NBR as were “Foxcatcher” and “Wild.” And “Selma” won only the NBR Freedom of Expression Award.

The NBR prize for Best Actress went to eventual Oscar champ Julianne Moore, who played a woman diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in “Still Alice.” However, the NBR named Clint Eastwood as Best Director for “American Sniper”; he was snubbed by the academy. He had previously won NBR’s directing prize for “Invictus,” in addition to an acting award for “Gran Torino” and a special achievement award for his producing, directing, acting, and music composition in “Million Dollar Baby.”

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