The National Board of Review awards gala on Sunday night kicked off the season’s pomp and circumstance.
Two days ahead of the Golden Globes in Los Angeles, stars of 2022’s most beloved films headed to Cipriani 42nd Street in New York to collect their first round of accolades. No one could lose: the winners had already been announced; speeches had been prepared and anticipated. Among the honorees were Colin Farrell and Michelle Yeoh, who were awarded the top acting awards, while Brendan Gleeson and Janelle Monáe picked up awards for their supporting roles. Steven Spielberg took home best director, and best film went to “Top Gun: Maverick.”
More from WWD
While several of the season’s frontrunners kept their red carpet commentary light, others took the opportunity to linger and network. “The Fabelmans” star Paul Dano, who later presented the breakthrough actor award to costar Gabriel LaBelle, could be seen chatting with Oscar Isaac, and earlier had introduced himself to “Till” star Danielle Deadwyler.
The evening also offered a preview of the red carpet fashion ahead. Jenny Slate donned a fitted floor-length sheath gown (“I’m not wearing sneakers under this dress,” she quipped as she shuffled her way along), Monáe was in a dramatic tulle Valentino gown from the brand’s resort collection, and LaBelle — brand new to the red carpet scene — suited up in Thom Browne, a look that he praised for the utilitarian fact that it fit him well.
“This whole thing is so overwhelming — this whole experience making this movie. I mean, it’s an honor,” said the young actor, who stars as a fictionalized version of Steven Spielberg in the famed director’s film. “I think when the press tour calms down I’ll be able to process what it all means, but being here right now, it’s very joyous.” Asked how he was preparing to head into his first awards season, the Canadian actor praised having a strong team around him and being off of social media.
For breakthrough actress Deadwyler, the key is a lot of sleep. “I just go to bed. I read my books — I read Mamie [Till]’s memoir during this time, because she just has brilliant lessons in it about navigating the world, not just about the tragedy and loss. She’s got a lot of joy in it.”
The actress, dressed in a pink sequined Prada gown, was still processing her quick ascension; last year, she starred in NBR’s best ensemble-winning film “The Harder They Fall.”
“And now to be awarded breakthrough for ‘Till,’ it’s a rapid growth,” Deadwyler added. “But I think ‘breakthrough’ is about opening up. People are interested in you, they’re interested in where you come from. So I’m excited to have a conversation about the community and the way we make art.”
There were plenty of conversation-starters throughout the evening’s long awards presentation.
Oscar Isaac, who presented best original screenplay to Martin McDonagh for awards heavyweight “Banshees of Inisherin,” recalled seeing one of McDonagh’s plays as a young student in drama school. The pair met for the first time several years later and were quick friends. “Within 48 hours of that meeting, we were sitting in a pub in London tripping our balls off on magic mushrooms,” Isaac said. “My point is, the man is not afraid of risk.”
“I think one of the nice things about awards season is as much as we all might be egotistical and competitive — I’m actually talking about me — I find when you get to actually meet your fellow filmmakers, you actually kind of like them and you don’t mind that they win lots of s–t instead of you,” McDonagh said. “It’s been a really great year for film. I’m actually a bit pissed off it’s been such a great year; I wish we’d come out last year.”
“I feel like I’ve entered my own metaverse,” said “Everything Everywhere All at Once” lead Yeoh, the first Asian actress in 45 years to win the NBR’s award for best actress. “I knew immediately the gift I was given to play Evelyn Quan, who turned out to be the most challenging, humane, unique, tender, sweet, sour, tough and resilient character. In other words: the most universal character I’ve ever had the privilege to play.”
Launch Gallery: Inside the National Board Of Review 2023 Awards Gala