Let the Academy Award precursor season begin...
The first real precursor, the National Board of Review has announced it's top films, and actors of the 2007 season.
The top film went to No Country For Old Men, clearly a critical favorite for the year and more and more a shoo-in for a nomination. Previous NBR best pics almost always score a nod, although the winning film here usually doesn't win the Oscar (like past wins for Letters from Iwo Jima, Good Night Good Luck, Finding Neverland, Mystic River, The Hours, Moulin Rogue).
In the past 20 years only three NBR winners did not get nods include: Quills (2000), Gods and Monsters (1998), & Empire of the Sun (1987).
The NBR top 10 (in alphabetical order) are...
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bucket List
Into the Wild
The Kite Runner
Lars and the Real Girl
It's probably a safe bet to assume at least 4 of the 5 best pic nods will come off this list. I'm excited to see The Kite Runner make the list, mostly because I'm very hopeful this will be a great film and would hate to be disappointed.
I'm surprised to see The Bucket List and Bourne Ultimatum make the list.
Films notably not included: The Savages, Charlie Wilson's War, American Gangster, In the Valley of Elah, Gone Baby Gone & There Will Be Blood.
Actor winners are a little interesting...
Best Actor honors went to George Clooney for Michael Clayton.
(The past 4 NBR Acting winners not only went on to get nominated, but also win...Forest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jamie Foxx & Sean Penn). I still don't see Clooney winning the race this year, but a nomination looks good.
Best Actress Honors went to Julie Christie in Away from Her. Hooray! She did great work in this film, so glad to see her honored.
No NBR winning actress has gone unnominated since Mia Farrow who won in 1990 for Alice.
Best Supporting Actor honors went to Cassie Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. NBR tends to go with younger actors, and so in an old-actor heavy supporting year...it looks like Affleck has a chance to join some old men.
Best Supporting Actress honors went to Amy Ryan for Gone Baby Gone. I believe Ryan has an excellent chance at a nomination, although this is NBR's acting award that traditionally lines up horribly with Academy nominations.
Other NBR winners...
Best Director: Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Best Foreign Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Best Documentary: Body of War
Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille
Best Ensemble Cast: No Country for Old Men
Best Original Screenplay (tie): Diablo Cody, Juno and Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men