The National Board of Review prides itself on being the first awards service to grace the Fall Movie Season. You have to wonder about an organization that honors the best films of a given year when there are still four weeks left in that respective year. That said, this is the first award that can be considered a "big deal", Oscar-wise. After all, last year's NBR winner (Slumdog Millionaire) went on to win the Best Picture trophy. Here were there choices this year:
BEST PICTURE: Up In The Air
BEST DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood, Invictus
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up In The Air
Top 10 Films of the Year
(Well, Top 11 if you count Up In The Air):
500 Days of Summer
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Where The Wild Things Are
Hmmm... No Precious is a bit of a surprise, and they certainly love Invictus more than other people seem to. The Messenger and Star Trek are also surprising, I guess, but the NBR always likes to be the first awards body to make an audience go "Wha???".
BEST ACTOR: (tie) George Clooney, Up In The Air
AND Morgan Freeman, Invictus
BEST ACTRESS: Carey Mulligan, An Education
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anna Kendrick, Up In The Air
BEST ENSEMBLE: It's Complicated
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTRESS: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
No Mo'Nique for Best Supporting Actress is a little bit of a shocker (but Kendrick was so good also, so I can't really complain), and the only attention they gave Precous at all was Sidibe's win for "Breakthrough Actress". Will The Messenger have as big of an awards' presence as the NBR seems to think it will? I don't think so, but that's what these early awards circles are about: leading us astray.
So here's what we know now: Up In The Air is now a serious contender for Best Picture, and so is Clooney for Best Actor. I still think Precious will hold on through this, but this wasn't a good start. I was excited that Carey Mulligan got some recognition (though it only cements that Tilda Swinton's work in Julia will get ignored), and I hope she won't get abandoned at the last moment like Sally Hawkins was last year (for her greatness in Happy-Go-Lucky). Glad the awards season is started!