Who knew host Meredith Vieira could swear like a trucker, or imagine herself at 59 as a dead Pussy Galore? But as the television personality reminded a packed Cipriani's on 42nd street for the National Board of Review's Awards Gala on Tuesday night, paraphrasing Jessica Chastain's "Maya" in Zero Dark Thirty: "I'm the motherf--ker in charge."
Excuse me, but there were children in the room: Quvenzhane Wallis, from Beasts of the Southern Wild and Tom Holland from The Impossible each received Breakthrough Performance Awards. And while John Krasinski defined "freedom of expression" as "taking a chance," speaking about the award given to Promised Land, others took the phrase more liberally.
Josh Brolin, for example, presenting the award for Best Actor to Bradley Cooper traced his history to the place where Cooper just said, "F it." Brolin repeated that several times to illustrate the point where an artist simply breaks free from inhibition, training, propriety and lets it rip. Silver Linings Playbook is something of an evolution in Cooper's career that also includes The Hangover movies and Wedding Crashers.
Of course David O. Russell directed his performance, and picking up an award for Best Adapted screenplay, he told the NBR why he chose the novel Silver Linings Playbook for his next project after The Fighter, after Sydney Pollack suggested it, how the story of Pat Solitano -- his creation -- was personal because his son's outbursts brought him "to his knees" to film a story that would make Matt be part of the world. After the awards, Russell said of the event, "We got a lot of love here."
That love seems to be spreading. The road from NBR to Oscar nod is not linear: Lincoln, now with 12 nominations, leading the contenders, made no impression on NBR. Silver Linings picked up Academy Award nominations for its cast, including Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, director and adapted screenplay for Russell, and editing. And let's not forget Best Picture.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.