And the award goes to…The Social Network, The National Board of Review's pick for Best Film, Best Director (David Fincher), Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) and Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg). Full list and and analysis below.
Best Film: The Social Network
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
UPDATE: The NBR is not always a forecaster of things to come, but rather a bellwether of where the momentum is at this moment in time. Last year, the best film was Up in the Air, which ran out of steam by the time the main event came around. NBR also tends to be a bit academic--they are educators after all, although they have added students and emerging filmmakers to their roster of 100 voters--and New York-centric. The group always does well by Sony Pictures Classics, which is releasing Mike Leigh's Another Year, Animal Kingdom and foreign winner Of Gods and Men.
I passed smiling NBR winner Christian Bale in the Four Seasons lobby (I had just interviewed Blue Valentine's Michelle Williams) as the news hit the wires around noon Pacific. As I waited for my car, Weinstein Co. publicists were gnawing their teeth that Blue Valentine was overlooked, along with King's Speech star Colin Firth and director Tom Hooper. This is a big win for Eisenberg, especially. The Weinsteins need not worry about Firth. He will prevail with Academy actors. But Blue Valentine is coming up from behind and needs help.
Clint Eastwood's Hereafter and Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island are not necessarily going to land on the top ten list for the best picture Oscar, but strong box office and buzz around Ben Affleck's The Town, on the other hand, could land the film a slot.
With these awards, the films that are left out simply don't get the boost they may need; their momentum slows down. Movies that could have used some help are Fox Searchlight's intense Black Swan and 127 Hours, Focus Features' R-rated social comedy The Kids Are All Right, Lionsgate's grief drama Rabbit Hole, and Peter Weir's survival adventure The Way Back.
Best Foreign Language Film: Of Gods and Men
Best Documentary: Waiting for “Superman”
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Ensemble Cast: The Town
Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Debut Directors: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, Restrepo
Spotlight Award: Sylvain Chomet and Jacques Tati, The Illusionist
Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling, Buried
Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: Sofia Coppola for writing, directing, and producing Somewhere
William K. Everson Film History Award: Leonard Maltin
NBR Freedom of Expression: Fair Game, Conviction, Howl
Production Design Award: Dante Ferretti, Shutter Island
Ten Best Films (in alphabetical order)
The King’s Speech
Toy Story 3
Five Best Foreign-Language Films
I Am Love
Life, Above All
Five Best Documentaries
A Film Unfinished
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The Tillman Story
Top Ten Independent Films:
The Ghost Writer
Let Me In
Youth in Revolt
Last year's winners included: Up In The Air (Best Film); A Prophet (Best Foreign Language Film); The Cove (Best Doc); George Clooney (Best Actor, Up In The Air); Carey Mulligan (Best Actress, An Education); Woody Harrelson (Best Supporting Actor, The Messenger); Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air) and It's Complicated (Best Ensemble Cast).
Non-profit NBR is made up of 110 film enthusiasts, academics, professionals, and students. They support film commentary and film education: In 2010, they awarded grants to nine schools and the following organizations: Children’s Aid Society, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, The Ghetto Film School, and Educational Video Center.