The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures is a non-profit organization of New York City area film enthusiasts. Its awards, which are announced in early December, are considered an early harbinger of the film awards season that culminates in the Academy Awards.
|Formation||January 1909(as New York Board of Motion Picture Censorship)|
The organization which is now a private organization of film enthusiasts has its roots in 1909 when Charles Sprague Smith and others formed the New York Board of Motion Picture Censorship to make recommendations to the Mayor's office concerning controversial films. It quickly became known as the National Board of Motion Picture Censorship. In an effort to avoid government censorship of films, the National Board became the unofficial clearinghouse for new movies. The Board's stated purpose was to endorse films of merit and champion the new "art of the people", which was transforming America's cultural life. In March 1916 the Board changed its name to the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures to avoid the controversial word "censorship".
Producers submitted their films to the board before making release prints; they agreed to cut any footage that the board found objectionable, up to and including destroying the entire film. Thousands of films carried the legend "Passed by the National Board of Review" in their main titles from 1916 into the 1950s, when the board began to lose financial support, partly due to the NBR being overshadowed by the MPAA regarding film censorship.
In 1930, the NBR was the first group to choose the 10 best English-language movies of the year and the best foreign films, and is still the first critical body to announce its annual awards. In 1936 executive secretary Wilton A. Barrett explained the Board's workings:
The National Board is opposed to legal censorship regarding all forms of the motion picture...It believes that far more constructive ...is the method of selecting the better pictures, publishing descriptive, classified lists of them and building up audiences and support for them through the work of community groups...
Since 1909, the National Board of Review has dedicated its efforts to the support of cinema as both art and entertainment. Each year, this select group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals and academics view over 250 films and participates in illuminating discussions with directors, actors, producers and screenwriters before announcing their selections for the best work of the year. Since first citing year-end cinematic achievements in 1929, NBR has recognized a vast selection of outstanding studio, independent, foreign-language, animated and documentary films, often propelling recipients such as Peter Farrelly’s Green Book and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road into the larger awards conversation. NBR also stands out as the only film organization that bestows a film history award in honor of former member and film historian William K. Everson. In addition, one of the organization’s core values is identifying new talent and nurturing young filmmakers by awarding promising talent with ‘Directorial Debut’ and ‘Breakthrough Actor’ awards as well as grants to rising film students and by facilitating community outreach through the support of organizations such as The Ghetto Film School, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, and Educational Video Center. With its continued efforts to assist up-and-coming artists in completing and presenting their work, NBR honors its commitment to not just identifying the best that current cinema has to offer, but also ensuring the quality of films for future generations to come. 
The NBR has also gained international acclaim for its publications: Film Program (1917–1926); Exceptional Photoplays (1920–1925); Photoplay Guide to Better Movies (1924–1926); National Board of Review Magazine (1926–1942); New Movies (1942–1949); and Films in Review, which published its first issue in 1950.
Films in ReviewEdit
The board's official magazine had existed in several forms and different names since its inception. In 1950, the magazine changed its name from Screen Magazine and launched the first issue as Films in Review (ISSN 0015-1688) on February 1, 1950. Films in Review ceased print publishing in 1997 and became an online publication only at Filmsinreview.com. It is the oldest film review and commentary publication in the United States.
- Best Film + Top 10 Films
- Best Director
- Best Actor
- Best Actress
- Best Supporting Actor
- Best Supporting Actress
- Best Acting by an Ensemble
- Breakthrough Performance
- Best Adapted Screenplay
- Best Original Screenplay
- Best Animated Film
- Best Documentary Film
- Best Foreign Language Film
- Spotlight Award
- Best Family Film
- Top 5 Documentaries
- Best Directorial Debut
- Best Animated Feature
- Top 10 Independent Films
- Special Recognition
- Best Juvenile Performance
- NBR Freedom of Expression
- Special Filmmaking Achievement
- Top Five Foreign Language Films
- Special Achievement in Producing
- William K. Everson Film History Award
- Career Achievements in Production: Cinematography, Music, FX
Note: Until 1945, there were only awards for Best Picture and intermittent awards for Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film.
- National Board of Review Chief Responds to Claims of Favoritism and Murky Membership – The Hollywood Reporter
- "National Board of Review of Motion Pictures records 1907-1971", NYPL
- Sklar, Robert (1994). Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies (2nd ed.). New York City: Vintage Books. pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-679-75549-7.
- Chris, Cynthia (2012). "Censoring Purity". Camera Obscura. Duke University Press. 27 (1 (79)): 97–98, 105. doi:10.1215/02705346-1533457. ISSN 0270-5346. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Exit: 'Passed by National Board of Review'". Boxoffice. No. January 19, 1952. Associated Publications. January 19, 1952. p. 25.
- Barrett, Wilton A. "The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures--How It Works." The Journal of Educational Sociology, vol. 10, no. 3, 1936, pp. 177–188. Accessed 7 May 2021
- "THE NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW WILL HOST AWARDS GALA ON TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2022". National Board of Review. January 20, 2022. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
- "SCREEN MAGAZINE BOWS; Films in Review, Published by National Board, Out Today". The New York Times. February 1, 1950. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
- 1987 National Board of Review Best Juvenile Performance Empire of the Sun Chistain Bale
- "Top 5 Foreign Language Films | Archive". National Board of Review. 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2019.