National Board of Review 2015 Awards: First indication of 'Mad Max: Fury Road' awards season potential
Going over the December 2015 movie awards not previously discussed on this site, we begin with the National Board of Review Awards, announced on Dec. 1. (Scroll down for the full list of winners.)
Not including the Gotham Awards, which specifically honors independent American cinema, the National Board of Review was the first group to announce their Best of the Year picks this awards season. As a result, they were the first to indicate that George Miller's action-thriller Mad Max: Fury Road would be a major awards contender this year.
Since then, among other awards and nominations, Mad Max: Fury Road – a Mad Max reboot of sorts starring Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, and Nicholas Hoult – has been shortlisted for two Golden Globes, including Best Picture - Drama, and it has received top honors from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Chicago and San Diego critics groups. Additionally, veteran George Miller (The Witches of Eastwick, Lorenzo's Oil) was the Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Director.
As a result, even though Mad Max: Fury Road failed to be shortlisted in any major category for the Screen Actors Guild Awards – it's up for Best Stunts in a Motion Picture – Miller's dystopian thrill ride is now a likely Best Picture Oscar contender.
Holocaust drama 'Son of Saul' in, musical comedy 'The Martian' iffy
Barring some ungodly miracle, László Nemes' Holocaust drama Son of Saul, which won the National Film Board's Best Foreign Language Film Award, is the movie to beat in that category at the Oscars. NBR Best Actress winner Brie Larson, for her part, is in the running for both a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for her performance as an abducted sexual abuse victim in Lenny Abrahamson's Room.
Best Actor Matt Damon, Best Director Ridley Scott, and their movie, The Martian, have been less lucky so far. True, the box office hit is up for three Golden Globes – it helps that this mostly dramatic story is in the running as a “comedy or musical” – but elsewhere The Martian, if at all mentioned, has almost invariably ended up as a runner-up.
At the SAG Awards, The Martian, which also features Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, was completely bypassed. That turn of events came as quite a surprise for such a generally well-received commercial effort, the sort of stuff SAG members usually go for.
This blatant omission reduces Damon's chances of landing a Best Actor Oscar nomination, as the Academy's Actors' Branch tend to match the SAG Awards' choices when it comes to commercial Hollywood fare. For now, Ridley Scott has a better chance of getting a Best Director nod; a three-time nominee (Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down), the Alien and Blade Runner filmmaker has never taken home that particular golden statuette.
Veteran actors and Freedom of Expression
Two veteran National Board of Review Award winners, Jennifer Jason Leigh for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight and Sylvester Stallone for Ryan Coogler's Rocky-esque Creed, are also shoo-ins for the Academy Awards in the supporting categories.
And finally, the NBR's Freedom of Expression Awards went to two disparate movies: Cary Joji Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation and Mustang, the feature film debut of Turkish-born actress/director Deniz Gamze Ergüven. The former, a Best Cast SAG Award nominee, tells the story of a child soldier in Civil War-stricken Liberia; set in a Turkish village, the latter focuses on the lives of five orphaned sisters struggling to break away from an oppressively patriarchal system. (Check out a curious comment on the IMDb re: Mustang's portrayal of this particular aspect of Turkey's multifaceted society.)
Mustang is the French entry for the 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. It's also one of the nine semi-finalists in that category.
Awards ceremony in January 2016
According to the National Board of Review, “over 250 films (studio, independent, foreign-language, animated, and documentary) were viewed by this select group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals, academics, and students.”
The NBR's awards ceremony will take place on Jan. 5, '16, at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.
2015 National Board of Review winners
Best Film: Mad Max: Fury Road, directed by George Miller.
Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul, directed by László Nemes.
Best Director: Ridley Scott, The Martian.
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room.
Best Actor: Matt Damon, The Martian.
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight.
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Drew Goddard, The Martian.
Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight.
Best Documentary: Amy, directed by Asif Kapadia.
Best Animated Feature: Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter, with co-director Ronnie del Carmen.
Best Ensemble: The Big Short, directed by Adam McKay. (The cast includes Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Melissa Leo, Finn Wittrock, Max Greenfield, and Karen Gillan.)
Breakthrough Performance: Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation, and Jacob Tremblay, Room.
Best Directorial Debut: Jonas Carpignano, Mediterranea.
Spotlight Award: Sicario, for Outstanding Collaborative Vision. (Director: Denis Villeneuve. Screenplay: Taylor Sheridan.)
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Beasts of No Nation, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Mustang, directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven.
William K. Everson Film History Award: Cecil B. DeMille's granddaughter Cecilia DeMille Presley, co-author with Mark A. Vieira of Cecil B. DeMille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic.
National Board of Review Top Films
Bridge of Spies.
The Hateful Eight.
Straight Outta Compton.
National Board of Review Top 5 Foreign Language Films
The Second Mother.
National Board of Review Top 5 Documentaries
Best of Enemies
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.
Listen to Me Marlon.
The Look of Silence.
National Board of Review Top 10 Independent Films
Welcome to Me.
While We're Young.
National Board of Review website.
Image of Tom Hardy National Board of Review Best Film winner Mad Max: Fury Road: Warner Bros.
Image of Günes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Elit Iscan, Tugba Sunguroglu and Ilayda Akdogan in National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award co-winner Mustang: Cohen Media Group.