Every year at this time, I post about how much I love the National Board of Review and their choices historically. The group is as old as the Oscars are, so there’s a lot of history to go by. They’re the one group who, every year, when they name their ten best films, at least 8 of them are in my top 25. And of the other two, one I go, “Yeah, that was really good,” and the other I go, “Wasn’t quite for me as much, but I get it.” With them, you know, they like auteurs. For years, Clint Eastwood automatically got on. Sully made it on last year. This year, I can tell you at least 60% of the list, sight unseen. That’s just how they are, that’s why I love them.
The quick history — NBR started as a bunch of theater owners and distributors in 1909, right when states were getting upset about the immorality of the movies. They got together to put a seal of approval on movies they thought were artistic. Then in 1930 (so like 2 years into the Oscars), they started putting out their list of ten favorite movies a year. The best thing about them is that they’re not just a critics group. I find that critics groups can start buying into their own tendencies and get very pretentious and or bandwagon-y. NBR is made up of critics and professors and students and film lovers and an assortment of people who just love movies.
In a way, this is the unofficial kick-off to Oscar season. NBR always announces first, and while they don’t have a huge impact on the race necessarily, it is really cool to see which way they go. (more…)