National Board of Review Names ‘Da 5 Bloods’ Best Picture, Spike Lee Becomes Second Black Director Winner

Clayton Davis
·5-min read

The National Board of Review has named Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” as the year’s best film and ensemble. Lee also won the prize for directing, becoming only the second Black director to receive the honor, following Barry Jenkins for 2016’s “Moonlight.”

Over the last 30 years, the winner of best film has gone on to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture, with exceptions once every decade — 2014’s “A Most Violent Year,” 2000’s “Quills” and 1998’s “Gods and Monsters.” In the 1980s, there were technically two misses with 1987’s “Empire of the Sun” and 1983’s “Betrayal,” which tied with “Terms of Endearment.” NBR’s last best film selections were Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” and George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

More from Variety

In the acting races, the group averages two of their winners moving on to Oscar nominations. In the major categories of picture, director, acting and screenplay, the group has never had a full match. It can be argued that 1994 was a full match when “Pulp Fiction” and “Forrest Gump” won best film, but they gave a career achievement award to William Goldman in their best screenplay category. 1996 is another debatable year as no screenplay award was given, and Edward Norton won for “Everyone Says I Love You,” but went on to be nominated at the Oscars for “Primal Fear.”

Carey Mulligan won NBR’s best actress award for her performance in “Promising Young Woman,” marking her second win from the group following 2009’s “An Education,” for which she was also nominated for an Oscar. The last NBR best actress winner to not garner Academy attention was Amy Adams for 2016’s “Arrival.”

Riz Ahmed and Paul Raci won for their turns in “Sound of Metal” in lead and supporting actor, respectively. The two actors are currently leading in the critics’ awards. While it helps, you can never be too comfortable with an NBR win under your belt. It was just last year when Adam Sandler won for “Uncut Gems” and failed to get nominations at the Globes, SAGs and Oscars. In the supporting actor category, you have to go a little further back to 2013 when Will Forte was recognized for “Nebraska” and didn’t muster broad support from the guilds and award shows.

After nabbing a Spirit Awards nomination on Tuesday morning, Yuh-Jung Youn won best supporting actress from NBR — her biggest win yet for her work in “Minari.” With the LAFCA trophy under her belt, she’s moving along nicely toward a possible March 15 nomination and is considered the Oscar frontrunner. The last NBR winner to fail to garner Academy recognition was Jessica Chastain in 2014 for “A Most Violent Year.” “Minari” did well overall, also netting best original screenplay for Lee Isaac Chung.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” from Shaka King and “The Midnight Sky” from George Clooney were among the movies named “top films” that need the awards boost. “First Cow” from Kelly Reichardt and “News of the World” from Paul Greengrass received added kudos, most notably the latter that won best adapted screenplay. The big omissions include Netflix films “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” from George C. Wolfe, “Mank” from David Fincher and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” from Aaron Sorkin. All failed to make the top 10 (actually top 11) list and nab any of the respective categories. Though winning best film with “Da 5 Bloods” surely helps quell Netflix’s pain.

Also taking hits were Florian Zeller’s “The Father,” Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.”

Below is the full list of winners.

Best Film: “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
Best Director: Spike Lee, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
Best Actor: Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
Best Supporting Actress: Youn Yuh-Jung, “Minari” (A24)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies, “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)
Best Original Screenplay: Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari” (A24)
Breakthrough Performance: Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features)
Best Directorial Debut: Channing Godfrey Peoples, “Miss Juneteenth” (Vertical Entertainment)
Best Animated Feature: “Soul” (Pixar)
Best Foreign Language Film: “La Llorona” (Guatemala)
Best Documentary: “Time” (Amazon Studios)
NBR Icon Award: Chadwick Boseman
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
NBR Spotlight Award: Radha Blank for writing, directing, producing and starring in “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (Netflix)
Best Ensemble: “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

Top Films (in alphabetical order):

  • “First Cow” (A24)

  • “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (Netflix)

  • “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)

  • “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)

  • “Minari” (A24)

  • “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)

  • “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

  • “Soul” (Pixar)

  • “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order):

  • “Apples” (Greece)

  • “Collective” (Romania)

  • “Dear Comrades (Russia)

  • “The Mole Agent” (Chile)

  • “Night of the Kings” (Ivory Coast)

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order):

  • “All In: The Fight for Democracy” (Amazon Studios)

  • “Boys State” (A24/Apple TV Plus)

  • “Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)

  • “Miss Americana” (Netflix)

  • “The Truffle Hunters” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order):

  • “The Climb” (Sony Pictures Classics)

  • “Driveways” (FilmRise)

  • “Farewell Amor” (IFC Films)

  • “Miss Juneteenth” (Vertical Entertainment)

  • “The Nest” (IFC Films)

  • “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features)

  • “The Outpost” (Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment)

  • “Relic” (IFC Films)

  • “Saint Frances (Oscilloscope Labotories)

  • “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.