The National Board of Review has named Warner Bros.’ Mad Max: Fury Road as the best film of 2015, while 20th Century Fox’s The Martian earned top wins for Ridley Scott as best director, Matt Damon as best actor, and Drew Goddard for best adapted screenplay. Damon has been lauded twice before by the NBR: As part of The Departed‘s ensemble cast in 2006 and with a 1997 special achievement award that he shared with Ben Affleck for their work on Good Will Hunting.
It’s a big breakthrough for both films in an awards season where Spotlight has triumphed to date, receiving three Gotham Independent Film Awards last night for best feature, cast and screenplay, as well as five Spirit noms last week. At the NBR, the Open Road release was named one of the top 10 films of the year.
But Mad Max and Martian weren’t the only two titles making headway. Also gaining early awards-season traction is The Weinstein Co.’s The Hateful Eight, which only recently began screening before awards voters and press. Quentin Tarantino received recognition for his original screenplay as well as supporting actress Jennifer Jason Leigh for her turn as the black-eyed Daisy Domergue. Tarantino won best director from NBR in 1994 for Pulp Fiction.
After earning five Indie Spirit nominations last week, Netflix/Participant Media’s Beasts Of No Nation continues to pick up steam, locking down a breakthrough performance kudo for child actor Abraham Attah and a Freedom of Expression award. And while Johnny Depp was overlooked for his turn as Whitey Bulger in Warner Bros.’ Black Mass, Sylvester Stallone popped up with a best supporting actor win for another Warners co-production, MGM/New Line’s Creed, for his portrayal as a Rocky Balboa battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
If there’s one awards organization that does it their way, it’s the National Board of Review, typically recognizing films that aren’t necessarily surefire bets in an awards-season race. Last year, its lauded J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year with best film, actress (Jessica Chastain), actor (Oscar Isaac, who tied with Birdman‘s Michaeal Keaton); the title was passed over at the Oscars in regards to noms. In fact, the NBR hasn’t synced with AMPAS on Best Picture since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, and the last time the org matched the Oscar win for best director was Martin Scorsese for The Departed in 2005. One category that NBR and the Oscars were completely on board with last year: Julianne Moore as best actress for Still Alice. This year’s NBR best actress is Brie Larson for her portrayal of a distressed, kidnapped mother in A24’s Room. Larson was nominated last week for an Indie Spirit in the best actress category for the role.
Receiving the 2015 William K. Everson Film History Award is Cecilia De Mille Presley, the granddaughter of director Cecil B. DeMille. As Vice Chair of the National Film Preservation Foundation, she has devoted her life to film preservation.
Established in 1909, the National Board of Review is a nonprofit organization comprised of knowledgeable film enthusiasts, professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students. The group’s awards will be handed out January 5 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York in an event hosted by Willie Geist.
Here’s the full list of awards:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott – The Martian
Matt Damon – The Martian
Brie Larson – Room
Best Supporting Actor
Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Best Original Screenplay
Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Best Adapted Screenplay
Drew Goddard – The Martian
Best Animated Feature
Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation
Jacob Tremblay – Room
Best Directorial Debut
Jonas Carpignano – Mediterranea
Best Foreign Language Film
Son of Saul
William K. Everson Film History Award
Cecilia De Mille Presley
The Big Short
Sicario for Outstanding Collaborative Vision
NBR Freedom of Expression Award
Beasts of No Nation & Mustang
Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Straight Outta Compton
Top 5 Foreign Language Films
The Second Mother
Top 5 Documentaries
Best of Enemies
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Listen to Me Marlon
The Look of Silence
Top 10 Independent Films
Welcome to Me
While We’re Young