Slumdog Millionaire's awards momentum continues to build with Thursday's National Board of Review announcement. Remember, this not particularly illustrious group is helpful for just that--building a list of winners who keep on winning. Being left off is no badge of shame, but it can be a telltale sign of weakness. Also, this group tends to reflect movies that were screened early, and carries a certain New York bias.
For example, I would say that Clint Eastwood's Changeling is losing steam at this stage just as Gran Torino gains some heat (while Eastwood won an NBR best actor nod, the film has met a mixed reception from some critics; UPDATE: here's Todd McCarthy.)
Anne Hathaway's bid for a best actress Oscar slot is gaining traction, while Melissa Leo and Richard Jenkins had to settle for "Spotlight" also-ran status. And it's unlikely that, as worthy as it is, the Coen brothers comedy Burn After Reading is going to get far with the serious-minded Academy (maybe screenplay). The Wrestler is most likely a Mickey Rourke best actor play, while Wall-E, which will probably get closer to a best picture nomination than any animated film has since the Academy added the animation category, may be overlooked by many live-action-oriented branches, most crucially, the actors.
Artier entries Revolutionary Road, The Reader, and Happy-Go-Lucky are more likely to be championed by critics groups and actors. (Despite the ensemble award and breakthrough artist prize for Viola Davis for Doubt, this is not a good day for producer Scott Rudin.) Ed Zwick's Holocaust drama Defiance gets a much-needed boost from the NBR. For now the list solidifies the leading Oscar contenders at this stage: Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Milk, and Frost/Nixon. In fact, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that they will in fact wind up as the Oscars' Top Five for best picture.
The full list of winners is on the jump:
And the winners are:
Film: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Actor: Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"
Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Foreign Language Film: "Mongol"
Documentary: "Man On Wire"
Animated Feature: "Wall-E"
Ensemble Cast: "Doubt"
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Directorial Debut: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"
Original Screenplay: Nick Schenk, "Gran Torino"
Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire and Eric Roth, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Spotlight Award: Melissa Leo, Frozen River and Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression: "Trumbo"
TOP TEN FILMS
"Burn After Reading"
"The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight"
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]