“Sometimes life can feel like an adventure,” Oscar Isaac said as he presented Martin Macdonald with the Best Original Screenplay award at last night’s National Board of Review Awards . Isaac was talking about the grit it takes to tell a story and make a film in this day and age, but the general feeling in the room was that the risk was worth it. The
evening was an intimate celebration of the filmmaking of the previous 12 months. Emerging stars joined Hollywood fixtures under the soaring ceiling of a grand ballroom in Midtown Center to mark the occasion with their best Sundays. Among the many famous faces are Janelle Monáe, Daniel Craig, Colin Farrell, Ariana DeBose and Ron Howard. , reflecting in time as a string of stars take to the main stage to present and accept awards, tell jokes and exchange stories about their collaborations. Barry Jenkins presents the moving story of best directorial debut winner Charlotte Wells as he appeals to “everyone under 20 filmmakers,” who belong to the next generation hungry for storytelling. Then, Michelle Yeoh’s emotional reflection on her four-decade journey from Malaysia to Hollywood, as she accepted Best Actress in Everything Everywhere All at Once , provided She earned a well-deserved standing ovation that could be felt anywhere in the room.
In the epic final boom, Steven Spielberg (whose appearance drew a throng of fans with posters of Sharpies and Jaws to the red carpet outside to accept the penultimate award for Best Director of the night. Spielberg made sure to note his first National Board of Review Best Director honor (for Empire of the Sun after ) and this year’s The Fabelmans victory. The two films coincided with the introduction of two new screen talents, a then 20 year-old Christian Bale in the Empire Now 20 year old Gabriel LaBelle is in The Fabelmans. This final, impromptu moment reminds us that cinema is still alive, still has magic.