Anyone who truly reads my Oscar coverage each year (which is in the tens) knows how much I love the National Board of Review. It’s my favorite voting body. They’re the only precursor group whose nominations/awards I actually look forward to. Everything else is marginal to me. The reason I love them is twofold. First, it’s the only group with as much history as the Oscars. And second, it’s the group that tends to be closer to my own personal tastes than any other one.
To get more specific about that first point — NBR started in 1909, when a bunch of theater owners banded together to show that films, which were looked at as a “lower” art form, and pretty immoral based on their content, to say, “No, look, these films are artistic.” So they would put their stamp on approval on the films they thought furthered the art form and showed what cinema could be. And in 1930, two years into the Oscars, they started putting out a list of their ten favorite movies each year. Which they’ve continued to this day. And unlike all the other precursor groups, they’re not just industry people (SAG and the other guilds) and they’re not just critics (HFPA, BFCA). They’re made up of critics and students and film lovers and people who just love movies. They are as locked into their tastes as anyone — I can always count on them to have certain types of films on their list each year — but very rarely do I look at their list and straight up disagree with more than one, maybe two of their choices.
Which brings me to that second part — I find that almost every year, their top ten films are almost all in my top 25 films of the year. Maybe like one of them falls outside of that. And when there is something outside, it’s never something I straight up disagree with. It’s always, “Yeah, I get it.” I always compare them to that good friend you have who also loves movies… sure there are gonna be things they like that you don’t, but you’re always like, “Yeah, I get it. You love those kinds of movies.” That’s how I feel about them. We may not be entirely aligned, but we generally agree and I know that, sight unseen, I already am like 70% in line with them. (more…)