OK, let's just get this out of the way-- the National Board of Review's choices for the best films of the year are meaningless. It's a group full of old people whose choices for the best of the year can range from the utterly expected to the totally bizarre (The Bucket List!), and even with 10 Best Picture nominees now, the odds of their 10 choices lining up with Oscar's are extremely slim.
That said, the NBR's choices for the ten best films of the year (plus an extra Best Picture winner) are very, very interesting, both for what it could mean for the coming awards season and as a snapshot of the year that was. Up in the Air took the top prize as well as a few others-- George Clooney for Best Actor, Anna Kendrick for Best Supporting Actress (a shocking upset over Precious's Mo'nique), and Best Adapted Screenplay for Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner. In fact, except for a Breakthrough Actress nod for Gabourey Sidibe, Precious was entirely absent, hugely surprising given that it's been a frontrunner in the awards race so far.
The other films listed alongside Up in the Air as the year's best were An Education (also honored with Carey Mulligan as Best Actress), (500) Days of Summer, The Hurt Locker (with Jeremy Renner additionally as Breakthrough Actor), Inglourious Basterds, Invictus (Clint Eastwood was awarded with Best Director, and Morgan Freeman tied with Clooney for the Actor prize), The Messenger (Woody Harrelson came out of nowhere to get Best Supporting Actor for this film), A Serious Man (also winner of Best Original Screenplay), Star Trek (!!), Up and Where the Wild Things Are (!!!).
It's an interesting mix of mainstream and indie, highbrow and populist, and really, not a bad list at all. Also noteworthy is the top ten for independent films, which somehow includes the studio-funded District 9 right alongside teeny-tiny Goodbye Solo, but is also a pretty great list as well. Below is the full list of awards (cribbed from Indiewire).
Best Film: Up In The Air
Best Director: Clint Eastwood, Invictus
Best Actor: Morgan Freeman, Invictusand George Clooney, Up In The Air(tie)
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, An Education
Best Supporting Actor: Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick, Up In The Air
Best Foreign Film: A Prophet
Best Documentary: The Cove
Best Animated Feature: Up
Best Ensemble Cast: It’s Complicated
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut: Duncan Jones, Moon, Oren Moverman, The Messenger and Marc Webb, 500 Days of Summer (tie)
Best Original Screenplay: Joel & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up In The Air
Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: Wes Anderson, The Fantastic Mr. Fox
William K. Everson Film History Award: Jean Picker Firstenberg
NBR Freedom of Expression: Burma Vj: Reporting From A Closed Country, Invictus, The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellseberg And The Pentagon Papers
Top Eleven Films (In alphabetical order):
(500) Days Of Summer
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Up In The Air
Where The Wild Things Are
Top Ten Independent Films (In alphabetical order):
In The Loop
Me And Orson Welles
Top Six Foreign Films (In alphabetical order):
Song Of Sparrows
The White Ribbon
Top Six Documentary Films (In alphabetical order):
Burma Vj: Reporting From A Closed Country
The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellsberg And The Pentagon Papers
Staff Writer at CinemaBlend
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