Predicting the National Board of Review awards

Posted by · 4:40 pm · December 1st, 2010

Even more so than the Indie Spirit nods that landed yesterday, the National Board of Review honors are seen by many as the season’s official starting gun — though there are just as many who would question their right to such significance.

The NBR gets stick on an annual basis for a range of middlebrow sins: their weakness for soft literary awards bait, their unwavering loyalty to Clint Eastwood (watch “Hereafter” aggravate everyone by showing up in tomorrow’s announcement) and their odd concessions to broad studio fare. (They’ll never live down the inclusion of “The Bucket List” — over “There Will Be Blood,” to boot — in the 2007 Top 10.)

But as ill-advised and frequently obvious as their choices can be, the NBR can occasionally throw us a real curveball: nobody saw Campbell Scott’s Best Actor win for “Roger Dodger” coming in 2002, while the Best Picture hopes of “Quills” began and ended with its out-of-step triumph at the 2000 awards. And remember that if anyone can resist a seemingly sure thing, it’s these guys: last year, this was pretty much the only stop that sweepers Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique missed on the awards track all season.

For some reason, this feels to me like one of their play-it-safe years, perhaps because the de facto Oscar frontrunner is so comfortably in their wheelhouse to begin with. My best (or worst) guesses for tomorrow’s awards announcement below. Chime in with yours in the comments.

Best Picture: “The King’s Speech”
Best Director: Danny Boyle, “127 Hours”
Best Actor: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
Best Actress: Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”
Best Supporting Actress: Dianne Wiest, “Rabbit Hole”
Best Original Screenplay: Noah Baumbach, “Greenberg”
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Biutiful”
Best Documentary: “Inside Job”
Best Animated Feature: “Toy Story 3”
Best Ensemble: “The Town”
Best Breakthrough Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Best Breakthrough Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Best Directorial Debut: Aaron Schneider, “Get Low”
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”

Top Ten Films (winner not included)
“Black Swan”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“Love and Other Drugs”
“127 Hours”
“Rabbit Hole”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3”
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”

Top Five Foreign Language Films (winner not included)
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“I Am Love”
“Of Gods and Men”
“Outside the Law”
“The Secret in Their Eyes”

Top Five Documentaries (winner not included)
“Exit Through the Gift Shop”
“Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”
“Waiting for Superman”

Top Ten Independent Films
“Another Year”
“Blue Valentine”
“Cairo Time”
“Four Lions”
“Get Low”
“Mother and Child”
“Please Give”
“Tiny Furniture”

[Photo: Focus Features]

→ 27 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

27 responses so far

  • 1 12-01-2010 at 4:42 pm

    m1 said...

    I think that Sam Rockwell will win Supp. Actor and bounce back into the race a la Woody Harrelson last year.

  • 2 12-01-2010 at 4:52 pm

    Harmonica said...

    The King’s Speech

    127 Hours
    Black Swan
    Toy Story 3
    How to Train your Dragon
    The Social Network
    Winter’s Bone
    The Kids are All Right
    The Town

    David Fincher (The Social Network)

  • 3 12-01-2010 at 5:00 pm

    Dooby said...

    I have a sneaking suspicion ghost writer will get into the top ten along with Olvia Williams getting supporting actress – but just a hunch.

  • 4 12-01-2010 at 5:02 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I was tempted to put The Ghost Writer in, actually — but had persuaded myself so neatly about the other ten, I couldn’t see what to kick out.

  • 5 12-01-2010 at 5:29 pm

    Eli said...

    So no Inception, anywhere?

    Also, is it just me, or did anybody else love Hereafter? I know I’m in the minority here, but it completely captivated me, and I’d be really happy to see it gain some critical traction (even from the NBR).

  • 6 12-01-2010 at 5:31 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    I don’t how any voting body could consider “Love & Other Drugs” the best of anything, but I guess it wouldn’t surprise me.

  • 7 12-01-2010 at 5:32 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Best Picture- The King’s Speech

    Top ten-
    Another Year
    The Social Network
    Toy Story 3
    Winter’s Bone
    The Kids Are All Right
    True Grit
    The Town
    Rabbit Hole
    The Ghost Writer

    Actor- Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
    Actress- Lesley Manville, Another Year
    Supporting Actor- Christian Bale, The Fighter
    Supporting Actress- Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole
    Director- Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
    Original Screenplay: The Kids Are All Right
    Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
    Best Ensemble: How Do You Know
    Animated Film: Toy Story 3
    Documentary: The Tillman Story
    Foreign Language: The Secret in their Eyes

    Also, while I’m assuming the answer would be that it is not eligible, does anyone know for sure their rules on films that released last year but were not screened in time for the NBR. Just because when last year’s list came out I remember hearing that Avatar was not done in time to screen for them, and if were to somehow be eligible this year my NGNG prediction would be for the film to be in the top ten and win another award.

  • 8 12-01-2010 at 5:33 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    I hate to be “that guy”, but does anybody know approximately what time the announcement will come down tomorrow? It’s usually late in the morning, isn’t it?

  • 9 12-01-2010 at 5:54 pm

    Graysmith said...

    Looking at last year’s announcement it seems to have come around 2 pm Eastern time, 11 am Pacific.

  • 10 12-01-2010 at 6:10 pm

    Lanie said...

    I was deeply moved by Hereafter but then I saw the film two weeks after my beloved father died. So I had an instant connection to the material.

    I really loved Matt Damon’s understated portrayal as the reluctant medium.

  • 11 12-01-2010 at 6:13 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    @ Graysmith – Thanks.

  • 12 12-01-2010 at 6:27 pm

    Keil Shults said...

    The NBR gave Moulin Rouge their top prize about 8 years ago, so anything’s possible, mo matter how absurd.

    Sent from my iPad while on the toilet.

  • 13 12-01-2010 at 6:53 pm

    Sean said...

    Halle Berry-Best Actress

  • 14 12-01-2010 at 7:23 pm

    Angry Shark said...

    Weren’t they really populist last year? It would be weird to see them leave out Inception, with that in mind.

  • 15 12-01-2010 at 7:27 pm

    red_wine said...

    Guy do you know if they explicitly rule out foreign language winners these days in the normal categories?

    Because I seem to see no foreign language winners in the main categories in the past 20 years or so but they picked foreign language winners in many categories around 50 years ago (even in Best Picture and Best Director).

    They were great once (probably the oldest awards of their kind) but now leave a really bad taste in the mouth. All they have done in the last 3 years is anointed the Oscar front-runner at that time as their best film.

    I really cannot care enough to predict though I’ll be interested to see the winners.

  • 16 12-01-2010 at 8:14 pm

    Raffi said...

    I don’t think it’s gonna be The King’s Speech. I hope they go for something more inspired.

  • 17 12-01-2010 at 8:22 pm

    Derek said...

    Say what you want about NBR’s missteps, but any award carrying body that honors Ken Russell as best director for The Devils is downright diggity with me.

  • 18 12-01-2010 at 11:55 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Red_Wine: Fernanda Montenegro won their Best Actress award in 1998, actually. Foreign-language winners in the main categories are perfectly possible, but rare.

    Angry Shark: Were they that populist last year? They mainly creamed over Up in the Air and Invictus, which were mainstream enough, but hardly public favourites. I suppose they had Star Trek in their top 10 and gave Best Ensemble to It’s Complicated, but that’s par for the course for them.

  • 19 12-02-2010 at 2:36 am

    Dominik said...

    I find it extremely strange that the NBR used to announce a winner plus a Top 10 in the recent years, where the winner is NOT included.
    Makes it a Top 11 actually, but they call it Top 10 and act as if the winner has nothing to do with it.
    Does this makes sense to anyone?
    And I also found it more intresting when they used to rank their Top 10. Would be intresting to see who is their runner-up.
    I just hope “Another Year” is in, but I bet Leigh has better chances with LA and NY Film Critics Circles. Lesley Manville, at least.

  • 20 12-02-2010 at 4:55 am

    Edwin Drood said...

    Why would they give Darren Aronofsky atheir special achievement award? He was credited solely as director on “Black Swan”; I though this award went to a hyphenate. My best bet for this award would be actor-writer-director Ben Affleck…

  • 21 12-02-2010 at 4:57 am

    Graysmith said...

    The King’s Speech is precisely the kind of film NBR has traditionally loved. They’ve long been known as the champions of those kind of “safe” Oscar-y period drama films, although it’s been awhile since the last time they awarded one. But mainly because there hasn’t been many in the running in the past half-decade. They’ve picked the likes of Finding Neverland, The Hours and Quills as their best of the year though so if they were to pick The King’s Speech that’d be the least surprising choice.

    That said, they didn’t give their top prize to Shakespeare in Love or The English Patient though, so anything’s possible.

  • 22 12-02-2010 at 5:08 am

    Glenn said...

    I’d hardly consider a film about the Marquis de Sade who writes on his asylum walls with faeces to be “safe”.

    Aren’t the NBR the group that gives people awards for every film they did? Like, Andrew Garfield could win for Network/Never Let Me Go, or James Franco for 127 Hrs/Howl or Jeff Bridges for True Grit/TRON Legacy.

    …er, maybe not.

  • 23 12-02-2010 at 7:03 am

    Joe7827 said...

    Now, come on, Guy. “The Bucket List” was actually a pretty good movie. And I did like “Hereafter”, although I’d be surprised to see it show up anywhere.

  • 24 12-02-2010 at 11:04 am

    Adam Smith said...

    So, it looks like I’m totally alone in this, but I’m expecting The Social Network to take this. The King’s Speech will easily make the Top Ten, and Colin Firth has Best Actor all but sewn up, but I’m expecting The Social Network to get its first big boost (not counting S&S, though that was a huge get) this season right here.

  • 25 12-02-2010 at 4:00 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...


  • 26 12-02-2010 at 4:01 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    But in all seriousness, if the Oscars were in January, they may be this hard to predict (and fun) as well.

  • 27 12-03-2010 at 9:15 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Hey, I got The Town for ensemble!