National Board of Review Winners

And we’re off to the races. Though the Indie Spirits generally announce their nominees first, the National Board of Review’s awards are considered the first real Oscar precursors – for better or for worse, as they’ve often balanced genuinely insightful/inspired picks with an irrational love for Clint Eastwood. Last year’s choices were as schizophrenic as usual: the fairly vanilla frontrunner “Up in the Air” took Best Picture, but a Best Supporting Actor win for Woody Harrelson and appearance in the Top 10 for “The Messenger” played a big role in getting that superb film the buzz it needed for an eventual Screenplay nod at the Oscars. They were also pretty much the first and last people to take a chance on “Where the Wild Things Are” and put it in their Top 10.

This year’s winners are a little more intriguing, mostly because “The Social Network” swept the top awards like no other film in recent memory has done at the NBR. Is Fincher’s film turning into a “No Country for Old Men”/”Slumdog Millionaire”-type juggernaut, or will it blow its wad early and fizzle out as “Up in the Air” did? I’m inclined towards the former, since it seems likely that at least a couple critics’ groups will go for “Social Network,” if not all of them. But we’ll see.

All of the acting awards will generate some much-needed buzz for their recipients, especially Lesley Manville, since “Another Year” seems to have been fading somewhat of late. The 10 Independent film list is nice, as are some of the special awards – makes up somewhat for their star-struck leanings toward Eastwood, Scorsese, and Affleck. Any thoughts? Do “Shutter Island” and “The Town” really have what it takes to stick in this race all the way through? I think the fact that they’ve made it this far is a great sign for them. Oh, expect the inexplicable love for “Buried” to end here, by the way.

Best Film: The Social Network

Best Director: David Fincher, “The Social Network”

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”

Best Actress: Lesley Manville, “Another Year”

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”

Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”

Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling, “Buried”

Best Foreign Language Film: Of Gods and Men

Best Documentary: Waiting for “Superman”

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3

Best Ensemble Cast: The Town

Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”

Debut Directors: Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington, “Restrepo”

Spotlight Award: Sylvain Chomet, Jacques Tati, “The Illusionist”

Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: Sofia Coppola, “Somewhere”

William K. Everson Film History Award: Leonard Maltin

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Fair Game, Conviction, Howl

Production Design Award: Dante Ferretti, “Shutter Island”

Ten Best Films (doesn’t include winner):

  • Another Year
  • The Fighter
  • Hereafter
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • Shutter Island
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

Five Best Documentary Films (not including winner):

  • A Film Unfinished
  • Inside Job
  • Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
  • Restrepo
  • The Tillman Story

Ten Best Independent Films:

  • Animal Kingdom
  • Buried
  • Fish Tank
  • The Ghost Writer
  • Greenberg
  • Let Me In
  • Monsters
  • Please Give
  • Somewhere
  • Youth in Revolt

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