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National Board of Review, USA


The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures was founded in 1909 in New York City, just 13 years after the birth of cinema, to protest New York City Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr.'s revocation of moving-picture exhibition licenses on Christmas Eve 1908. The mayor (son of the famous Civil War general) believed that the new medium degraded the morals of community. To assert their constitutional freedom of expression, theatre owners led by Marcus Loew and film distributors (Edison, Biograph, Pathe and Gaumont) joined John Collier of The People's Institute at Cooper Union and established the New York Board of Motion Picture Censorship, which soon changed its name to the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures to avoid the taint of the word "censorship."

In 1929, the NBR was the first group to choose the ten best English-language movies of the year and the best foreign films, and is still the first critical body to announce its annual awards.

To determine the NBR's annual awards, opinions are sent in from the 150 members — who are sophisticated film fans and academics living in New York, not necessarily film critics — to the Exceptional Photoplay Committee, a dozen elite members who are ultimately responsible for deciding the winners.



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