The National Board of Review announced its annual winners list for 2010 and "The Social Network" was the big winner as best film of the year.  The Scott Rudin production also won best director (David Fincher), best actor (Jesse Eisenberg) and best adapted screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) to dominate the organization's year end kudos.  The biggest surprises were the complete lack of recognition for Fox Searchlight's "127 Hours," "Black Swan" and Focus Features' "The Kids Are All Right."  To say the group might be showing its age is just a bit of an understatement ("Hereafter" top ten of the year? Really guys?).  

Still, as the first major awards out of the gate not specifically associated with independent film, the winners will be trumpeted by their respective studios over the next six weeks until Oscar nomination ballots are due.  With that in mind, let's look on how each award might help the films and talent at play.

Best Film - "The Social Network"

Lowdown: Sometimes NBR is a best picture predictor ("No Country For Old Men") and sometimes they are not ("Up in the Air").  It helps, but there is a long way to go.

Best Director - David Fincher, "The Social Network"

Lowdown: Clearly a leading contender with our without this honor.  DGA win or loss will tell the tale.

Best Actor -Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"

Lowdown: Still not convinced he's in the five, but this is a huge help.  If he gets a SAG, he's got a nod.  A win would be a big surprise. 

Best Actress - Leslie Manville, "Another Year"

Lowdown: This is actually a nice boost for Manville who could be facing more competition than expected for a nod here.  And, again, not opening until late Dec. and no screeners being sent out doesn't help her cause either.

Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale, "The Fighter"

Lowdown: He's a lock for a nod in any case, but could still lose to Geoffrey Rush once all is said and done.  Doesn't hurt though.

Best Supporting Actress - Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"

Lowdown: Wow, Sony Classics pulled a fast one here.  She's still a huge reach to land an Oscar nod.

Best Foreign Film - "Of Gods and Men"

Lowdown: I'm trying to avoid putting a "Yawn" here, but I can't help it.  Let's see if it makes Oscar's final five.  I'm not convinced it will.

Best Documentary - "Waiting for 'Superman'"

Lowdown: This is a relief in many ways for Paramount after the Spirits snubbed it earlier this week.

Best Animated Feature - "Toy Story 3"

Lowdown:  Check that one off the list.  How many more wins to go?

Best Ensemble Cast - "The Town"

Lowdown:  A nice coup for Ben Affleck's thriller considering the competition. It's looking more and more like the thriller will make Oscar's 10.

Breakthrough Performance - Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"

Lowdown: Any recognition for Lawrence helps her, but she needs a SAG nomination big time.

Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut - Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, "Restrepo"

Lowdown: Nice recognition from the NBR.

Best Original Screenplay - Chris Sparling, "Buried"

Lowdown: Honestly, the biggest shocker of them all.  Even Sparling must be surprised.

Best Adapted Screenplay - Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network"

Lowdown: The frontrunner and still out a head of the pack.

Special Filmmaking Achievement Award - Sofia Coppola, "Somewhere"

Lowdown:  Really?  Let's just leave it at that.

William K. Everson Film History Award - Leonard Maltin

NBR Freedom of Expression - "Fair Game," "Conviction," "Howl"

Lowdown: Searchlight's one recognition for "Conviction"?  Not what the mini-major expected.

Top Eleven Films (In alphabetical order):

"Another Year"

"The Fighter"

"Hereafter"

"Inception"

"The King’s Speech"

"Shutter Island"

"The Social Network"

"The Town"

"Toy Story 3"

"True Grit"

"Winter’s Bone"

Lowdown: Again, "127 Hours," "Black Swan" and "The Kids Are All Right" -- if one or two of them hadn't made it, O.K., but all three?  I'm afraid to ask what the average age of an NBR member is.  Is this your grandfather's Academy?  "Hereafter" and "Shutter Island" on the top list?  Just ridiculous.  

Top Ten Independent Films (In alphabetical order):

"Animal Kingdom"

"Buried"

"Fish Tank"

"The Ghost Writer"

 "Greenberg"

 "Let Me In"

 "Monsters"

 "Please Give"

 "Somewhere"

"Youth in Revolt"

Lowdown: This honor roll makes a lot more sense, but not including "Blue Valentine," "Get Low" or even "Kids Are All Right" is distressing.  

Top Six Foreign Films (In alphabetical order): 


 "I Am Love"
"Incendies"
"Live, Above All"
"Of Gods and Men"
"White Material"

Lowdown: Happy to see "I Am Love" here.  Feeling as though "Incendies" is going to take most of these from the critic's groups.

Top Six Documentary Films (In alphabetical order): 


"A Film Unfinished"
"Inside Job"
"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work"
"Restrepo"
"The Tillman Story"
"Waiting for 'Superman'"

Lowdown: What, no "Exit From The Gift Shop"?  Why am I not surprised?  Worth noting, "Joan Rivers" and "A Film Unfinished" did not make the Academy's documentary shortlist.
 

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