Women seized the moment last week at the National Board of Review annual awards dinner at Cipriani 42d Street. The glitziest night of the New York movie awards season was celebrated by an impressive number of talented and empowered female filmmakers.
The NBR celebrates excellence in filmmaking with categories that include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, Best Original and Adapted Screenplay, Breakthrough Performance, and Directorial Debut, as well as signature honors such as the Freedom of Expression, and the NBR Spotlight Award.
The awards are announced a month in advance which makes for a pressure free evening where presenters and winners can relax and mingle and have a good time. And since the event is not televised tongues are loose and language often bawdy.
In a season marked by horrific charges of sexual harassment and assault and gender pay inequality, the mood of the event may have been more somber than in years past but there was also a sense of purpose and focus on achieving much needed cataclysmic change.
Mainly there were the many accomplishments by women last year to celebrate. Among the honorees, for “Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig awarded best director for her debut feature and Laurie Metcalf named best supporting actress honors.
Angelina Jolie and Loung Ung were Freedom of Expression honorees for “First They Killed My Father.”
Wonder Women Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot, who received the Spotlight Award, created the greatest excitement on the red carpet in a parade of many big name film makers.
Other honorees who attend included Best Actor recipient, Tom Hanks, Best Actress recipient, Meryl Streep, Best Supporting Actor recipient, Willem Dafoe, Best Screenplay recipient, Paul Thomas Anderson, Best Adapted Screenplay recipients, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, Best Breakthrough Performance recipient, Timothée Chalamet, Best Directorial Debut recipient, Jordan Peele, Freedom of Expression recipients John Ridley, and Angelina Jolie, Loung Ung, Best Animated Feature recipient, Lee Unkrich, Best Film recipients Steven Spielberg, Amy Pascal and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Best Documentary recipient Brett Morgen, Best Foreign Language Film recipient Samuel Maoz, Best Ensemble recipients Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Betty Gabriel, Stephen Root and LilRel Howery.
Presenters and additional attendees included Christiane Amanpour, Sean Baker, Gio Benitez, Jason Blum, Ken Burns, Eli Bush, Kate Capshaw, Stephen Colbert, Robert DeNiro, Tommy Didario, Tina Fey, Geoffrey Fletcher, Dave Franco, James Franco, Whoopi Goldberg, Grace Gummer, Armie Hammer, Liz Hannah, Isabelle Huppert, Tamara Jenkins, Julianna Margulies, Lupita Nyong’o, Saoirse Ronan, Harriet Sansom Harris, Josh Singer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jim Taylor, Rita Wilson and more.
The feel and spirit of the evening was reinforced a few days later at the Critics Choice Awards, where Gal Gadot accepted the #SeeHer award (given to boundary-pushing actresses) and pointed out that the top three films of the 2017, “The Last Jedi,” “Wonder Woman” and “Beauty and the Beast” were stories carried by women. “Although this is progress, there is still a long way to go.”