"Up in the Air" has been named the best picture of 2009 by the National Board of Review, which also recognized the film's screenplay and stars George Clooney and Anna Kendrick.
 
Composed of film historians, students and educators, the NBR was founded in 1909 and has taken on a role as attempted kingmaker, giving out the earliest prizes of the critical pre-Oscar award season.
 
This year, the leading beneficiary will surely be Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air," which also took lead actor honors for Clooney, screenplay for Reitman and Sheldon Turner and earned Kendrick a win for best supporting actress.
 
Clooney split his award with "Invictus" star Morgan Freeman. 
 
"Invictus" was the NBR's other big winner, making the group's Top 10, while Clint Eastwood was named best director. 
 
The other major acting prizes went to Carey Mulligan as best actress for "An Education" and Woody Harrelson as best supporting actor for "The Messenger" and both "An Education" and "The Messenger" made the NBR's Top 10.
 
Among the films conspicuously absent in the NBR's Top 10 are Oscar favorites "Precious" and "Nine."
 
The 2009 NBR Winners:
Best Picture: "Up in the Air"
 
Top 10 Films:
"An Education"
"(500) Days of Summer"
"The Hurt Locker"
"Inglourious Basterds"
"Invictus"
"The Messenger"
"A Serious Man"
"Star Trek"
"Up"
"Where the Wild Things Are"
 
Best Director: Clint Eastwood, "Invictus"
Best Actor: 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 Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, "A Serious Man"
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, "Up in the Air"
Breakthrough Actor: Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"
Breakthrough Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"
Best Foreign-Language Film: "A Prophet"
 
Top Five Foreign-Language Films:
"The Maid"
"Revanche"
"Song of Sparrows"
"Three Monkeys"
"The White Ribbon"
 
Best Documentary: "The Cove"
 
Top Five Documentaries:
"Burma VJ"
"Crude"
"Food, Inc."
"Good Hair"
"The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers"
 
Best Animated Film: "Up"
Best Ensemble Cast: "It's Complicated"
Best Directorial Debut: Duncan Jones, "Moon;" Oren Moverman, "The Messenger;" Marc Webb, "(500) Days of Summer"
BVLGARI Award for Freedom of Expression: "Burma VJ," "Invictus"
 
Top 10 Independent Films:
"Amreeka"
"Goodbye Solo"
"Humpday"
"In the Loop"
"Julia"
"Me and Orson Welles"
"Moon"
"Sugar"
"Two Lovers"
"District 9"