With no clear-cut frontrunner yet emerging in the hunt for best picture, the National Board of Review has unveiled its annual list of best films of the year, slightly narrowing the wide-open Oscar race as Steven Spielberg’s The Post earns the group’s highest competitive accolade. Greta Gerwig took home the best director prize for her solo directorial debut Lady Bird.
The Post and Lady Bird saw success across the board with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep taking home the top acting prizes for their work in the newspaper drama and Laurie Metcalf earning the Best Supporting Actress award for her portrayal of Saoirse Ronan’s mother in Lady Bird.
“The Post is a beautifully crafted film that deeply resonates at this moment in time. We are so thrilled to award it our best film as well as to honor the wonderfully talented Greta Gerwig as our Best Director,” National Board of Review President Annie Schulhof said.
Established in 1909 by a band of theater owners opposing New York City’s revoking of exhibition licenses, the National Board of Review comprises perhaps the most unconventional mix of voters for a major precursor in the awards race. Its ranks consist primarily of film enthusiasts, academics, and other film-focused professionals, so its tastes often reflect a broader consensus than the perspective of industry insiders. That being said, only two NBR champions have missed a best picture Oscar nomination over the last 17 years: 2000’s Quills and 2014’s A Most Violent Year. NBR has also facilitated the rise of key players in the Oscar conversation, as both Her and Mad Max: Fury Road earned a significant bump in precursor traction after scoring a No. 1 placement on the NBR’s list in 2013 and 2015, respectively.
Last year, Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea (which ultimately scored trophies for best actor and best original screenplay on top of four other Oscar nods) occupied the NBR’s top slot, with an additional five films from the NBR’s top 10 (Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, La La Land, and Moonlight) bagging best picture nominations. All of the NBR’s 2016 acting winners, save for Arrival star Amy Adams, received corresponding Oscar nominations.
Its membership ranks might not run in the same circles as the Academy’s, though the NBR finds itself at an interesting tipping point as the critics’ groups gear up to announce their annual winners in the weeks ahead. Typically, a best picture frontrunner emerges out of the fall festival machine, and by this time last year, La La Land fever had taken control of the narrative; the Damien Chazelle-directed musical steamrolled critics out of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto (it easily took the TIFF People’s Choice Award on top of stellar early reviews).
This year, the race is more wide open — and not even the TIFF People’s Choice Award winner, Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, has established itself as a front-runner. In fact, the Fox Searchlight release was shut out by NBR — as was Fox Searchlight’s other fall festival fave The Shape of Water, which won top honors at the Venice Film Festival. Other surprising NBR snubs: Gary Oldman in the best actor category for his transformative work as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour and surprise summer success The Big Sick.
Check out all of the 2017 National Board of Review winners below.
Best Film: The Post
Best Director: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Best Actor: Tom Hanks, The Post
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Post
Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Best Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Best Original Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Best Adapted Screenplay: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
Best Animated Feature: Coco
Breakthrough Performance: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Best Directorial Debut: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Best Foreign Language Film: Foxtrot
Best Documentary: Jane
Best Ensemble: Get Out
Spotlight Award: Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: First They Killed My Father
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992
Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
The Florida Project
Top 5 Foreign Language Films
A Fantastic Woman
Top 5 Documentaries
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Brimstone & Glory
Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars
Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of Isis
Top 10 Independent Films
Beatriz at Dinner
A Ghost Story
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer