'Mad Max: Fury Road' Named Best Film By National Board Of Review; 'The Martian' Grabs Three Awards

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. mad maxDamon 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. 

the martian posterIt’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 hateful eightThe 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 55ba448d9e9755183d97d1f7_beasts-of-no-nation-idris-elbaNo 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 Brie Larson and Jacob TremblayViolent 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:

Best Film
Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Director
Ridley Scott – The Martian

Best Actor
Matt Damon – The Martian

Best Actress
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
Inside Out

Breakthrough Performance
Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation
Jacob Tremblay – Room 

Best Directorial Debut
Jonas Carpignano – Mediterranea

Best Foreign Language Film
Son of Saul

Best Documentary

William K. Everson Film History Award
Cecilia De Mille Presley

Best Ensemble
The Big Short

Spotlight Award
Sicario for Outstanding Collaborative Vision

NBR Freedom of Expression Award
Beasts of No Nation & Mustang

Top Films

Bridge of Spies


The Hateful Eight

Inside Out

The Martian




Straight Outta Compton

Top 5 Foreign Language Films

Goodnight Mommy



The Second Mother

The Tribe

Top 5 Documentaries

Best of Enemies

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

The Diplomat

Listen to Me Marlon

The Look of Silence

Top 10 Independent Films


45 Years

Cop Car

Ex Machina


It Follows

James White

Mississippi Grind

Welcome to Me

While We’re Young

  1. another reason critics can’t be trusted, Fury Road was utter garbage, a 2 hour car chase with zero plot is not a movie, pathetic

    1. I agree, I’m rather surprised at this. And I did leave the theater utterly exhausted after the screening. As sheer sensation, it was hard to beat, but best picture?

    2. Furiosa left a life of horror behind her to save those enslaved women, and discovered the place they were heading was a mirage. But the movie was amazing because the entire plot of the movie was driven by the chase scenes; the story moved as the cars did, and that was what was so amazing. It was a lived-in universe with incredible attention to detail. it entirely deserves this award and I hope it gets best pic from the Oscars.

    3. That list of top films is cringe-worthy and pathetic. Straight Outta Compton? Sicario? Creed? Hateful Eight? LOL, hilarious.

  2. Lolz. Without question, this was one of the most overrated movies in the history of overrated movies. Not only was it NOT the best movie of the year, it wasn’t even the best action film. Kingsman – which was a hot mess – was a more entertaining film with a better script and performances.

  3. After seen the critics’ choice from New York,National Board of Review,National Film Society and other critics across the nation(and Canada)last year and probably this year,after the film season,they should consider getting new critics and rebuilding their business from scratch.Some of these critics have either bad taste or don’t know how to award films.It’s sad.

  4. Wow- you have to be kidding me. It was awful. maybe they’re all taking Ayahuasca . What about Carol- Brooklyn – Spotlight ? did these people actually watch any films this year ?

  5. Prior to last year’s NBR winner, the last time a NBR winner didn’t receive an Oscar nom for Best Picture was Roman Polanski’s ‘Macbeth’ back in 1971.

    Fury Road is a masterpiece of pure cinema, with a powerful message and plenty of depth for those audience members willing and able to take it all in. We need more blockbusters that reach for this scale and this level of artistry.

      1. Oops, my mistake. How could I forget about Quills (don’t answer that).

        What I should have said is:

        “Prior to last year’s NRB winner, the last time a NBR didn’t receive any Oscar nominations was Roman Polanski’s Macbeth in 1971.”

        Still, NRB winners have an almost 100% track record of going on to receive Best Picture noms over the past several decades (with the exception of A Most Violent Year, Quills, and Macbeth).

    1. Also Gods and Monsters, Empire of the Sun, A Room With A View, Betrayal, Manhattan, and Days of Heaven.

      WiscoJoe you have failed. FAILED.

  6. Score another victory for the Liberal Agenda & all its decadent causes. BTW Mad Max was DUMB but it furthers a Socialist Anti-American cause so good or bad becomes irrelevant to all those biased bastards who claim impartiality

    1. Given that this was an Australian film with virtually no Americans in either the cast or crew, all your statement proves is that you are an incredible nincompoop.

      1. Another brainwashed idiot. The Internet is full of liberal bread automatons. You shouldn’t speak about something you know nothing about–Which is the past

  7. Any surprise as to why no one watches these award shows anymore? Giving Mad Max best picture is baffling, as I have no idea what makes that movie different from all the other action movies that get trashed by the critics every year. Something shady is up.

  8. The fact that Spotlight didn’t get more recognition shows how out of touch these old fogeys at the National Review Board are

    1. When we saw this film at an industry screening, my wife and I both agreed it was the best we had seen so far. This seems a dead year except for YOUTH and SPOTLIGHT. Have not yet seen JOY or CAROL.

  9. Shameful. None of these movies are NEARLY abstract and incomprehensible enough for me. Just WHERE is Gus Van Sant’s “Sea of Trees” on this list? I’ve never seen it, but I already know it deserves ALL of these awards, because anything by the creator of the masterpiece that is “Jerry” is pure cinematic gold (except for “Good Will Hunting” and “Milk”, which are obviously just populist filth he made to fund his REAL art.) Everyone knows that any film that has action, witty dialogue, comprehensible animation or a logical plot is NOT fine cinema, just shameful tripe to feed the masses. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to proclaim the genius that is Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language.”

  10. Well, the NBR just jumped the shark. I mean, The Martian sweeps Director, Screenplay, and Actor and yet they give Picture to a movie that lost every other competitive award that it was eligible for?

    That’s just silly.

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