The National Board of Review gala, which bowed at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan on Tuesday night, is part of that annual extended awards foreplay that takes place without break until the Academy Awards in March. The New York Film Critics Circle awards were Monday, and the Golden Globes are Sunday.
All the players who are expected to be contenders at the Oscars were on hand in Midtown to accept honors, or simply to do some extra campaigning before Wednesday, the deadline to vote for Oscar nominations.
A glance around the room found Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Bruce Dern, Emma Thompson, Spike Jonze, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux, Bérénice Bejo, Michael B. Jordan, Meryl Streep and Ethan and Joel Coen as well as Oscar Isaac, the star of their “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Others, like Jessica Chastain and Edie Falco, didn’t have a horse in any of the awards races but were there to present.
Outdoors, the polar vortex had sent temperatures plummeting through New York City, and Thompson was making a case for comfort. “The best way [to survive] the red carpet is by wearing Ugg boots,” said the actress. “But unfortunately, I have not yet managed to persuade the people who style me at these times to let me do that. I’ve begged, ‘Please let me wear my cozy little Uggs. And a sweat suit.’ Pajamas, really. But they won’t let me.” A reporter mentioned the ability to drink alcohol during the evening’s ceremony, unlike at the Oscars.
“Unless you’re clever enough to pack a small miniature,” Thompson said. “I once saw Catherine Deneuve do it, and I’ve followed her ever since.”
Trucker hats emblazoned with the words ‘Prize Winner’ were scattered all over the room as a nod to Dern’s crotchety character in “Nebraska,” where he wears one just like it. Streep wore one of the hats when she took the stage.
“Oh, I’m not the prize winner,” she said, removing it from her head. “That’s so weird.” Though the Oscar winner is an awards contender herself for “August: Osage County,” she was there to present an award to Thompson that described, in rhyme no less, her performance as P.L. Travers in “Saving Mr. Banks” as a “knockout.”
Scorsese and DiCaprio also did a bit to accept an award for career collaboration — “The Wolf of Wall Street” is their fifth movie together. They started to read their thank-you speeches at the same time, then fought over who would go first. Scorsese jumped up on his tiptoes to reach DiCaprio’s height. “Movies are work,” the filmmaker said. “They’re a daily battle. If you’re gonna go into battle, you better go in with somebody you respect, somebody you trust, and hopefully somebody you like. Leo has all the qualities I’m looking for in an actor.”
“You mean like an Italian last name?” DiCaprio cracked. Their skit was a rehearsal of sorts for Sunday’s Globes, where “Wolf” is up for two awards, including one for the actor.