Top Gun: Maverick Wins Best Picture at National Board of Review

The National Board of Review, an organization consisting of film academics, professionals, and enthusiasts, has named Top Gun: Maverick the best picture of the year, a major signal of the Tom Cruise sequel’s strength as an Oscar contender on the back of its record-breaking box office and strong reviews. Long one of the earliest year-end award groups to announce its winners, the NBR is known for lifting commercial studio-backed fare, having recently named movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and Green Book (the eventual Oscar winner) the best picture of the year. Does this mean Maverick, widely credited with saving movie theaters this summer, has what it takes to go all the way? This hardly says enough for a firm answer, but it’s a potent reminder not to count it out. 

Top Gun: Maverick is a thrilling crowd-pleaser that is expertly crafted on every level,” NBR president Annie Schulhof said in a statement. “Tom Cruise, Joseph Kosinski, and the entire filmmaking team have succeeded in making an incredibly popular film that brought audiences back to theaters, while at the same time being a full-on cinematic achievement.” 

Rare is the NBR winner that does not at least go on to a best picture nomination. (Last year’s champ, Licorice Pizza, netted Oscar nods for Paul Thomas Anderson in picture, director, and original screenplay.) And the news is usually good, if hardly assured, for the actors the group recognizes as well. It’s hard to deny that Colin Farrell is emerging as a real force in the best actor race, winning here after taking the NYFCC prize last week, as he reps a more overall acclaimed contender in The Banshees of Inisherin than his competitors, Brendan Fraser (The Whale) and Austin Butler (Elvis). Banshees’ screenwriter Martin McDonagh also  followed up on his NYFCC script win with the NBR award for original screenplay; he is the Oscar frontrunner at this stage. (In a bit of an upset, adapted screenplay went to Netflix’s international contender All Quiet on the Western Front.)

The fiercely competitive best actress race got evened out a bit with Michelle Yeoh winning for Everything Everywhere All at Once, while Cate Blanchett and Tár were blanked entirely. (Another challenger, Gotham winner Danielle Deadwyler, won a breakthrough performance award, and Till also ranked in the organization’s overall top 10 films of the year.) In the supporting categories, Banshees scored yet another win with Brendan Gleeson picking up the actor prize, while Janelle Monáe, who’s been all over the campaign trail for Netflix as the standout of Glass Onion, gets a pivotal supporting-actress pickup as she seeks traction in a messy, overcrowded race. Netflix also triumphed in documentary feature, which went to Robert Downey Jr.’s innovative portrait of his father, Sr.

The top 10 recognized those aforementioned actors’ films, in addition to steady contenders Women Talking, which also won best ensemble, and The Fabelmans, for which Steven Spielberg won best director; Gabriel LaBelle was also cited for breakthrough performance. The NBR rounded out its top 10 with standout indie Aftersun, which A24 continues to push after earning universal acclaim, and the Indian epic RRR, proving itself to have real momentum despite the country not selecting it for its international-feature Academy submission. It’s also worth noting that Avatar: The Way of Water made its way into the field, despite the James Cameron sequel officially beginning to screen just days ago. 

As for films this group did not go for: Beyond Tár, the absences included Elvis, Babylon, She Said, and The Whale. Not to worry too much, though—there’s plenty of awards season left to go.

The National Board of Review Awards Gala will take place on January 8, at Cipriani 42nd Street, in New York. See the full list of winners below.

Best Film:  Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Director: Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans 

Best Actor: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin 

Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once 

Best Supporting Actor: Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin 

Best Supporting Actress: Janelle Monáe, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery 

Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Adapted Screenplay: Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, Ian Stokell, All Quiet on the Western Front

Breakthrough Performance:  Danielle Deadwyler, Till 

Breakthrough Performance: Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans

Best Directorial Debut: Charlotte Wells, Aftersun

Best Animated Feature: Marcel the Shell With Shoes On 

Best International Film: Close

Best Documentary: Sr. 

Best Ensemble: Women Talking 

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Claudio Miranda, Top Gun: Maverick 

NBR Freedom of Expression Awards:

  • All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
  • Argentina, 1985 

 Top Films (in alphabetical order):

  • Aftersun 
  • Avatar: The Way of Water 
  • The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once 
  • The Fabelmans
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery 
  • RRR
  • Till 
  • The Woman King 
  • Women Talking 

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