Spike Lee’s Vietnam drama Da 5 Bloods came up big with the National Board of Review today, winning their prizes for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Ensemble. It’s a pretty big boost for the Netflix film, as NBR’s winner for Best Film rarely misses the Oscar nominations list for Best Picture. The last NBR winner to miss completely was 2014’s A Most Violent Year and before that you have to go back to 2000’s Quills.
Lee’s director win is also notable, as it’s only the second time in the NBR’s history that they’ve awarded Best Director to a black filmmaker, after Barry Jenkins won in 2016 for Moonlight.
NBR usually has a few somewhat off the wall picks in their Top 10 Films of the year (often directed by Clint Eastwood, looking at you Hereafter, J. Edgar, Richard Jewell, etc.) Certainly the most unexpected selection this year was another Netflix feature, George Clooney’s sci-fi drama The Midnight Sky. The movie released in December with virtually no buzz and disappeared quickly among the other prestige awards releases, but it showed up here with a little love from the NBR.
It wasn’t all good news for Netflix today, however, as they got hit with probably the most notable omissions from the group. In a move that surely stunned everyone, The Trial of the Chicago 7from Aaron Sorkin was left off of the list, as were David Fincher’s Mank and George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. What does this mean for the Oscar prospects of those films? Probably nothing, as the NBR always has some off the wall choices and notable omissions, but it could be a sign that these three aren’t as strong of players as some might have assumed. You’d be hard pressed to find a year where the Oscar winner for Best Picture didn’t at least get included in the NBR’s Top 10. Aside from Parasite obviously missing last year, The Shape of Water did miss the cut in 2017. Before that, however, you’d have to go back to 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Some other big winners from the day included Sound of Metal, which included its run of acting accolades for lead Riz Ahmed and supporting star Paul Raci, as well as finding itself among the Top 10 Films list. Also on that list, perhaps surprisingly so, was the indie hit The Forty-Year-Old Version, which also earned writer/director/producer/star Radha Blank the Spotlight Award for her debut film. News of the World, the Christmas release that hasn’t picked up much buzz up until now, earned a win in Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as the “dad movie” slot in the Top 10 Films. A24’s critically beloved Minari was the Original Screenplay winner, along with another Supporting Actress prize going to Youn Yuh-Jung for the film.
Finally, while Promising Young Woman might have taken a hit by missing out on today’s Independent Spirit Awards nominations for Best Picture, it did make the cut here among the Top 10 Films, while also winning the prize for Best Actress for its star, Carey Mulligan, who also won the award for her breakout performance in 2009’s An Education.
For the full list of NBR winners, see below:
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Youn Yuh-jung, Minari
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Paul Greengrass and Luke Davies, News of the World
Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Channing Godfrey Peoples, Miss Juneteenth
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
NBR ICON AWARD
NBR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AWARD
One Night in Miami
NBR SPOTLIGHT AWARD
Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version
Da 5 Bloods
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Joshua James Richards, Nomadland
TOP 10 FILMS
The Forty-Year-Old Version
Judas and the Black Messiah
The Midnight Sky
News of the World
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
TOP 5 FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMS
The Mole Agent
Night of the Kings
TOP 5 DOCUMENTARIES
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Dick Johnson is Dead
The Truffle Hunters
TOP 10 INDEPENDENT FILMS
Never Rarely Sometimes Always