Thursday, December 3, 2009

NBR Falls for 'Up in the Air'

The National Board of Review announced their 2009 picks today, and the snubs are aplenty. The critical favorite and commercial success Precious was not among the board's top ten films of the year, and also absent from the top ten were a majority of films that haven't been released yet: Avatar, Crazy Heart, The Lovely Bones, and Nine. Jason Reitman's festival darling Up in the Air ran away with the top prize, while films such as The Messenger, Star Trek, and Where the Wild Things Are made surprise appearances into the top ten. I must say, even though I disagree with a lot of the choices that make up the top ten, I was delilghted by the inclusion of Inglourious Basterds

Another one that puzzled me was the absence of Jeff Bridges as the Best Actor winner, especially considering that the category ended up being a tie between Morgan Freeman (Invictus) and George Clooney (Up in the Air). With two winners, it is a shock that Bridges was not among them given the growing probability that he could very well win the Oscar. 

While I could sit here and argue all day about who should have won these awards, it is pretty irrelevant in retrospect. Given the history of the board's picks, they usually have little correlation with the Oscars. Take 2008 for example. Sure, they picked Slumdog Millionaire for Best Film, but among their top ten there were a considerable amount of Oscar snubs such as Burn After Reading, Changeling, The Dark Knight, Defiance, Gran Torino, WALL-E, and The Wrestler

Their acting picks from 2008 also had little relevancy to the Academy Awards as they chose Clint Eastwood for Best Actor, -- who didn't even receive an Oscar nomination -- Anne Hathaway for Best Actress, and Josh Brolin for Best Supporting Actor, neither of whom ended up winning. 

All in all, the conversation that this list has inspired will most likely die down soon enough, but until that happens, read the full list of winners below and fire away with your reactions.

Best Film: “Up In the Air”

Ten Best Films
(in alphabetical order)
“An Education”
“(500) Days of Summer”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Messenger”
“A Serious Man”
“Star Trek”
“Where the Wild Things Are”

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, “Invictus”

Best Actor: (tie) Morgan Freeman, “Invictus” and George Clooney, “Up In The Air”

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:

(tie) Duncan Jones, “Moon,” Oren Moverman, “The Messenger” and Marc Webb, “(500) Days of Summer”

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”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”

Five Best Foreign-Language Films
(in alphabetical order)
“The Maid”
“Song of Sparrows”
“Three Monkeys”
“The White Ribbon”

Five Best Documentaries
(in alphabetical order)
“Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country”
“Food, Inc.”
“Good Hair”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”

Top Ten Independent Films:
(in alphabetical order)
“District 9″
“Goodbye Solo”
“In the Loop”
“Me and Orson Welles”
“Two Lovers”


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I know it's incredibly childish of me - but I really hope Up in the Air tanks. My biggest draw for this was Farmiga, and she seems to be getting little notice. So, I'm all but out...maybe.

Danny King said...

@ Andrew: On the contrary, Farmiga's performance is getting great reception. I'm a big fan of her as well.

The tough part about her performance is the competition of Anna Kendrick in the same category. They might cancel each other out in terms of winning an Oscar, but both look like strong contenders for Oscar nominations at this point.

It might seem like Kendrick is getting most of attention, but I think that's just because this is a breakout performance for her, while Farmiga is a seasoned veteran who has done a lot of great work in a lot of great films.

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