“Hilarious and sad — that’s what the National Board of Review has become in the last several years,” Fox 411’s Roger Friedman has written in response to yesterday’s announcement of the NBR Awards. “The hilarious part is because the movie studios hate it but keep it going so they have an award to tout in newspaper ads. The sad part is that the members don’t know what they’re doing, and no one respects them.
“When the NBRMP snubbed Dreamgirls, The Queen and several other excellent 2006 films Wednesday, they were finally revealed for what they are: bickering fans and not professional film critics. Their choices instead for the 10 Best Pictures of 2006 included two Clint Eastwood films, The Devil Wears Prada, Blood Diamond and Little Miss Sunshine.
“But who makes the final selections for those 10 films? It’s not the whole membership of the NBRMP, people who pay $600 (more than I had previously understood) to be part of this gang. It’s just a group of 12 called the Exceptional Photoplay Committee. That’s it.
“The committee is led by Annie Schulhof, sister-in-law of former Sony CEO Mickey Schulhof. Her qualifications? She’s wealthy and has the time to run the organization. After Schulhof, the committee list is harder to place. It’s a secret organization, kept that way because the members — with the exception of one, possibly two — are not film professionals. They are just rich fans.
“This column reported last year that Annie Schulhof had close ties to Warner Bros. But we could never have imagined those ties culminating in these results.”