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National Board of Review

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures
The National Board of Review Logo.png
Official logo of the NBR
FormationJanuary 1909; 113 years ago (1909-01) (as New York Board of Motion Picture Censorship)
TypeFilm organization
HeadquartersUnited States

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.[1]


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.[2] 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.[3] 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".[4]

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.[3] 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.[5]

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 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...[6]


According to a 2022 press release from the National Board of Review, the organization's membership is composed of "film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals and academics of varying ages and backgrounds."[7]

Membership and voting are secret which is similar to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which administers the Oscars. In 2016 the membership was 130 members, 85 of whom were “young professionals.” There is no requirement for members to have any formal film qualifications. [1]

Because of the secretive nature of the membership and the voting process, the organization has been accused of favoring filmmakers with whom they have personal relationships. [1] In 2021 it was noted that none of the members of the board of directors has been black.[8]

Formerly, members were invited to attend private screenings where talent discussed the films.[1] During the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Board of Review adopted a hybrid approach to its screenings, offering digital screeners to its members in addition to in-person screenings, followed by in-person or online discussions with filmmakers and talent.

Votes are tabulated by accounting firm Lutz and Carr, Certified Public Accountants LLP.[1]

Their annual gala is held in early January.[9]


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 Review

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.[10] Films in Review ceased print publishing in 1997 and became an online publication only at It is the oldest film review and commentary publication in the United States.

Annual awards

To determine the NBR's annual awards, ballots are sent in by over 100 members of group of film enthusiasts, academics and filmmakers in the New York metropolitan area, and subsequently tabulated by a certified public accountancy firm in order to decide the winners. In addition, the Awards Committee determines the special achievement awards presented at the annual gala in January.

The organization also works to foster commentary on all aspects of film production by underwriting educational film programs and seminars for film students. In 2017, the NBR provided grants to Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, Ghetto Film School, and Educational Video Center. The organization also awarded grants to 13 student filmmakers as part of its annual student grant program.

Award categories

Note: Until 1945, there were only awards for Best Picture and intermittent awards for Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e National Board of Review Chief Responds to Claims of Favoritism and Murky Membership – The Hollywood Reporter
  2. ^ "National Board of Review of Motion Pictures records 1907-1971", NYPL
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Exit: 'Passed by National Board of Review'". Boxoffice. No. January 19, 1952. Associated Publications. January 19, 1952. p. 25.
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Golden Globes Aren’t Alone: National Board of Review Board of Directors Has No Black Members Either | Showbiz411
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "SCREEN MAGAZINE BOWS; Films in Review, Published by National Board, Out Today". The New York Times. February 1, 1950. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  11. ^ 1987 National Board of Review Best Juvenile Performance Empire of the Sun Chistain Bale
  12. ^ "Top 5 Foreign Language Films | Archive". National Board of Review. 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 22 May 2022, at 12:48
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