The National Board of Review—a somewhat mysterious organization made of up film enthusiasts, academics, filmmakers and students known for some left-field choices—has the honors of being one of the first major groups to announce year-end awards for 2015, and they’ve chosen one hell of a pick for the best film of the year. NBR announced today that it has selected Mad Max: Fury Road as the best feature film of 2015, kicking this year’s awards season off with a much welcomed shot of adrenaline. While the competition is fierce, it’s tough to be anything but tickled by this pick—director George Miller crafted an out-and-out masterpiece with his female-centric, dialogue-light actioner, and while many agree it’s one of the year’s best, there’s been some wariness about its actual chances when it comes to year-end awards.
Now before you go getting too excited, it’s important to note that NBR rarely matches up with the Academy. Their last four picks for Best Film of the Year were A Most Violent Year, Her, Zero Dark Thirty, and Hugo, and while three of those four landed Best Picture nominations, it’s tough to tell if Mad Max is a Her-like critical favorite that’ll get in or a Most Violent Year-esque oddball choice that doesn’t gain much traction in subsequent critics awards.
Regardless, the NBR made some other interesting choices, including Ridley Scott for Best Director and Matt Damon for Best Actor for The Martian, which also netted Drew Goddard a Best Adapted Screenplay honor. Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight landed Original Screenplay and Supporting Actress (for Jennifer Jason Leigh), while Creed got some love in the Best Supporting Actor category for Sylvester Stallone, which I’m thinking could be only the beginning of a nice awards run for the Rocky star.
Brie Larson continues to be a favorite in the Best Actress category, and she landed the same honor from NBR for her stunning work in Room. And I’m delighted to see young Abraham Attah from Beasts of No Nation take home the Breakthrough Performance award alongside Room’s Jacob Tremblay.
While it’s great to see Mad Max land the Best Picture award, it is a bit odd that Scott beat George Miller out for Best Director. Nevertheless, we’re only getting started folks. Expect many more critics group awards in the days and weeks to come. Check out the full list of the National Board of Review’s 2015 winners—including the year’s Top 10 films—below.
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: Amy
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
Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Straight Outta Compton
Top 5 Foreign Language Films
The Second Mother
Top 5 Documentaries
Best of Enemies
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Listen to Me Marlon
The Look of Silence
Top 10 Independent Films
Welcome to Me
While We’re Young