Ms. Streep, accepting best actress, started her speech with an ode to men.
“I love men. Oh my God,” Ms. Streep said. “Yeah, I know it’s the year of the woman and everything, but oh my God. The men. All my mentors have been men.” Her film, about The Washington Post’s role in publishing the Pentagon Papers, also won best picture and best actor, for Tom Hanks.
The rest of the event, held at Cipriani 42nd Street, was filled with tributes and sentimental celebrations for many of the year’s critically lauded films. When Tina Fey introduced Mr. Hanks for best actor, she joked that he was such a national treasure, he would soon be drilled for oil.
Jordan Peele, awarded best directorial debut for “Get Out,” spoke about how his horror film reflected the African-American experience.
“This movie, in the process of making it, became about representation as much as it was about any other form of oppression,” Mr. Peele said. “Get Out” also won best ensemble.
Credit Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for National Board of Review
In addition, films starring and directed by women were given their due. Patty Jenkins and Gal Godot accepted the Spotlight Award for “Wonder Woman,” which grossed more than $800 million in 2017. Laurie Metcalf won best supporting actress for “Lady Bird,” and Ms. Gerwig, the filmmaker behind “Lady Bird,” won best director.
“To be here in this room with these people who make movies and to be included as one of them is something that I cannot believe has happened,” an emotional Ms. Gerwig said.
An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the Washington Post publisher played by Meryl Streep. She is Katharine Graham, not Katherine.