For that last 70 plus years, the National Board of Review has compiled an annual list of the best movies from each year. While the NBR’s list is not affiliated with the Academy Awards, the lists are often very similar. In fact, only twice over the last 15 years has the NBR’s Best Film of the Year not been nominated for the same Oscar. While the two are separate, the National Board of Review’s list is a good indication of how the Academy will vote for their awards in January. This year’s National Board list included a few surprises, and it declared Mad Max: Fury Road as the best film of 2015.
Anyone who has seen Fury Road (and by this point, who hasn’t) would be happy to tell you how great the movie is. But let’s face it, the movies we love and tell all of our friends about are rarely the ones considered “the best.” The movies usually nominated for Oscars are infamously foreign, historically-based, or feature a hot actor/actress in a ton of makeup to make them look ugly. Movies like Mad Max: Fury Road are not typically even considered to be Oscar contenders. It is extremely doubtful that we’ll see Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and George Miller on stage at the end of the Oscars in February, but it would be exciting just to see them nominated with the Tom Hankses and Steven Spielbergs of the Hollywood world.
There are a few other surprises among NBR’s award list for 2015. According to the rundown, The Martian, Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight, and Inside Out are among the top films of 2015. Of course the more expected films – Bridge of Spies, Spotlight, and Sicario – were all on the list as well. Another surprising name on the list was Creed, the Rocky tie-in featuring Michael B. Jordan as the son of Apollo Creed. Sylvester Stallone even won the prize for Best Supporting Actor for his reprisal as Rocky for the film. However, the big winner of the NBR awards was The Martian, as Matt Damon took the Best Actor Award, while Ridley Scott took Best Director. The film also took the top prize for Adapted Screenplay.
Hopefully the National Board’s winners will be a good indication of what we can expect at the Academy Awards and Mad Max: Fury Road will at least be nominated. It is time for the academy to start looking past the special effects and explosions and start giving different genres a chance at their top prizes.