As originally reported by Indiewire, the National Society of Film Critics announced the year-end awards on Saturday.  At this point, with only eight days until Oscar ballots are due, the awards are basically a last minute addition to trade ads.  And considering the pile of screeners most members sat through over the holidays, it’s hard to imagine this amounting to much, but debating whether the organization should vote earlier to have more of an impact on Awards Season will be tabled for another time.  Instead, here’s some initial reaction to each of the winners.

BEST PICTURE: "Waltz with Bashir," directed by Ari Folman
Lowdown: Unconventional choice, but considering the events of the past few weeks in Gaza, incredibly timely.  Could the current world situation find voters ignoring their “WALL-E” love and picking this stunning picture instead?  Curious.

BEST DIRECTOR and SCREENPLAY: Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Lowdown: Considering how weak this category is this year, the previously nominated Leigh has an excellent chance of adding a sixth nod to his coffers.

BEST NON-FICTION FILM: "Man on Wire," directed by James Marsh
Lowdown: Is there any chance “Wire” won’t win Best Documentary?

BEST ACTOR: Sean Penn, "Milk"
Lowdown: He’s a lock to get the Oscar nod, question is whether he’s really the frontrunner or not. The SAG results will provide a big hint.

BEST ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Lowdown: Another nice critic’s award for Hawkins.  She’ll have a blast at the Globes, but it remains to be seen if she can crack Oscar’s ladies club.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Eddie Marsan, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Lowdown: Great working actor. Had fun chatting with him on the set of “Sherlock Holmes” (he plays Inspector Lestrade), but as great as he is in “Happy” it would be stunning to hear his name Oscar nominee morning.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Hanna Schygulla, "The Edge of Heaven"
Lowdown: Haven’t seen this Foreign Film contender yet, so I have no idea who this woman is, but I’m sure she’s very happy today.
 
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: "Slumdog Millionaire," Anthony Dod Mantle
Lowdown: The Cinematographer’s Guild (ACE) nods will tell the tale for Oscar, but it would be surprising not to see him at the big dance.

BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM: "Razzle Dazzle," directed by Ken Jacobs
Lowdown: This movie was supposedly released in 2007, but who’s counting when it’s “experimental”? As a graduate of Cal Arts film program that was as far from Hollywood as you can get, glad one group is recognizing the art filmmakers out there.

Monday gets a lot more exciting with the announcement of the Producer’s Guild Association nominees.  Yay.