Adam Sandler, Brad Pitt, and The Irishman score pre-Oscars awards from the National Board of Review

Brendan Morrow

The race to the 2020 Academy Awards is heating up, with The Irishman taking home a pre-Oscars top prize and Adam Sandler's chances of a best actor nomination becoming even more likely.

The National Board of Review on Tuesday announced its yearly awards and selected Martin Scorsese's The Irishman as best film, with Adam Sandler winning best actor for Uncut Gems, Renée Zellweger winning best actress for Judy, Brad Pitt winning best supporting actor for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Kathy Bates winning best supporting actress for Richard Jewell, Entertainment Weekly reports.

These awards, which are selected by a group that includes industry professionals and academics, don't always line up with the Oscars. The National Board of Review picked Green Book as the best film of 2018, and it went on to win best picture at the Oscars, but that was the only time the two prizes have lined up this decade. Still, the National Board of Review winners have in recent years usually at least scored best picture nominations.

Sandler gets a boost in the best actor race seeing as recent National Board of Review winners like Viggo Mortensen and Matt Damon have also scored Oscar nominations, although some have missed out.

The National Board of Review awards come after the 2019 Gotham Independent Film Awards, where the top prize went to another Netflix movie that's a serious best picture contender this year, Marriage Story. Birdman, Spotlight, and Moonlight previously won this prize and went on to win best picture at the Oscars.

The best picture award eluded Netflix at the 2019 Oscars when Green Book defeated Roma, but with The Irishman and Marriage Story both strong contenders, could this be the year? Or might Once Upon a Time in Hollywood beat both? We'll get a better sense as more Oscar bellwethers continue coming in ahead of the show on Feb. 9.

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