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National Board of Review Picks Up in the Air as Best Film of 2009

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 3, 2009 at 7:25AM

Again, the National Board of Review is not always a forecaster of things to come, but rather a bellwether of where the momentum is at this moment in time. (It tends to be a bit New York-centric.) Thursday, the NBR (made up of East Coast educators, mostly) named Jason Reitman's third film, the uncategorizable Up in the Air the best film of the year. The movie which is both funny and serious starts a limited run on Friday and has scored 86% on the Tomatometer so far.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Again, the National Board of Review is not always a forecaster of things to come, but rather a bellwether of where the momentum is at this moment in time. (It tends to be a bit New York-centric.) Thursday, the NBR (made up of East Coast educators, mostly) named Jason Reitman's third film, the uncategorizable Up in the Air the best film of the year. The movie which is both funny and serious starts a limited run on Friday and has scored 86% on the Tomatometer so far.

Up in the Air scored three more prizes: for star George Clooney as best actor (tied with Morgan Freeman, who plays Nelson Mandela in Invictus), Anna Kendrick for supporting actress, and Reitman and Sheldon Turner for best adapted screenplay. Invictus also won best director for NBR fave Clint Eastwood. Best actress went to Carey Mulligan for An Education. The Messenger's Woody Harrelson won best supporting actor. Best original screenplay went to the Coen brothers for A Serious Man. Best animated feature went to Pixar/Disney's Up. And Wes Anderson nabbed a special filmmaking achievement prize for The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Notable omissions include Nine, Crazy Heart, The Lovely Bones and A Single Man, not to mention Precious, which scored only a special breakthrough award for Gabourey Sidibe (along with The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner). As one of the earliest awards announcement out of the gate, the NBR often misses late-breaking films such as James Cameron's Avatar.

More winners on the jump (full list at IndieWIRE).

The NBR top ten (in alphabetical order):

(500) Days of Summer
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Invictus
The Messenger
A Serious Man
Star Trek
Up
Where the Wild Things Are

UPDATE: The NBR also awarded Spotlight Awards for best debut director to Duncan Jones (Moon), Oren Moverman (The Messenger) and Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer); gave the Nancy Meyers relationship comedy It's Complicated an ensemble cast award; and named Jacques Audiard's A Prophet as best foreign film and the expose The Cove as best documentary.

The awards will be handed out in New York January 12.

This article is related to: Awards, Headliners, Oscars, George Clooney


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.