ABOVE: LEONARDO DICAPRIO AND MARTIN SCORSESE AT THE ANNUAL NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW GALA. PHOTO COURTESY OF SYLVAIN GABOURY/PATRICK MCMULLAN.
It would take more than a polar vortex to keep Hollywood’s best and brightest from attending the annual National Board of Review Awards gala. Though sub-zero gusts could be felt whipping through Cipriani’s 42nd Street doors past starlets unclad ankles, everyone seemed to take it in stride. “My first writing teacher told me it would be a cold day in hell if I ever won an NBR award,” joked aptly-named The Wolf of Wall Street writer Terence Winter. “Well.”
Created in 1909, The National Board of Review Awards is responsible for one of the oldest and most prestigious accolades in film, and is often seen as a predictor for Oscar nominations to come. Over the night’s dinner of grilled chicken or Chilean sea bass (not to mention liberal pours of wine), 2013 favorites including Gravity, Nebraska, Fruitvale Station, Prisoners, and more got their due. The event’s top honors went to Spike Jonze for his artificial intelligence love story Her, which took home both Best Director and Best Film awards. When he took the stage, the self-deprecating auteur poked fun at his own speech making ability (or lack thereof) as he graciously accepted his statuettes. “When we were making this, I didn’t put it together that we’d actually have to release it and show it, because it’s such a very intimate movie. I just want to thank everybody who made it with us,” he said.
Before the show, the red carpet was filled with this season’s most lauded performers, including Jonah Hill, who discussed the infamous Quaalude overdose in The Wolf of Wall Street. “That took about four or five days shoot. It was incredibly physical— especially the Heimlich part, with Leo pounding on my chest. I think I broke a few ribs.” Terence Winter also pointed to that scene as a favorite to watch, “The fact that these guys went for it in such a huge way made me happier than any scene I’ve ever written in my life.”
Of all the actors stopping to chat on the red carpet, Will Forte had to have been the most awestruck by the night’s proceedings. Forte’s role in Nebraska marks the first time first time he has received recognition for a non-comedic performance, and he was visibly nervous about the night’s speech. “I was not able to sleep last night,” he said. When we asked what it was like auditioning for the role, he told us “I got a call out of nowhere—it was exciting-slash-terrifying. Exciting because [director] Alexander [Payne] had liked the tape, but I was terrified that I had to go meet him in person.”
Also traversing the red carpet was Fruitvale Station and Best Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spencer, who said she planning on “winging it” for the night’s speech: “I think people want to hear it from the heart.” Accompanying her was Spencer’s The Help co-star Jennifer Chastain, who looked absolutely radiant in a yellow Oscar de la Renta number. “I’m just here to support Octavia,” she told Interview. Arriving soon after was Adèle Exarchopoulos, who won Breakthrough Performance for her emotionally (and physically) revealing role in Blue Is The Warmest Color, who told us that she doesn’t think she would ever get used to the hectic hubbub of awards season.
Asked about his favorite films of the year, Wolf of Wall Street cast member Rob Reiner said that he was especially proud of Before Midnight—the third in the Before Sunrise trilogy, which his company Castle Rock Entertainment produced. He also joked that playing DiCaprio’s father in Wolf had made him feel more handsome than he was, adding “I didn’t know what was more unbelievable—that Leonardo DiCaprio was a Jew or that I was his father.” Reiner would later take the stage with as a presenter with Spike Jonze and Jon Favreau to introduce Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. (The three directors all played parts in The Wolf of Wall Street.) After bantering with his fellow presenters, the boisterous Reiner lamented not being on set for any of the many scenes with naked women, “One or two you could’a had! They didn’t have to be in the scene, just bring them around—we’re getting older, we need a little something.”
Once Leo and Scorsese took the stage to accept the Spotlight Award, they compared their five movie collaborations to a long-term relationship. “On Gangs of New York we courted each other. On Aviator, Departed, and Shutter Island, our kinship and trust expanded and deepened. And on The Wolf of Wall Street, we’re like any other married couple.” The speech ended with Scorsese and DiCaprio trading words in a back-and-forth thank-you to the National Board of Review that would have made for a great Marx Brothers routine.
Of the night’s speeches, though, the most talked about came from Meryl Streep’s moving, hilarious, and incisive introduction of Emma Thompson, for her Best Actress-winning portrayal of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks. Though the speech ended in a light-hearted poem she had penned titled, “An Ode to Emma, Or What Emma is Owed,” it veered into more serious territory with numerous remarks about Walt Disney’s anti-Semitism and sexism, while trumpeting their shared feminist views. Though not even a nominee, Streep once again stole the show.