It is that time of year again — time to kick the tires and light the fires on my Oscar Beat column, the official home of the chase for the little golden man. And no, we are not going to be chronicling the time that we painted Peter Dinklage gold, lubed him up and let him loose during the Golden Globes ceremony. That is a story for another day. This is all about who is going to win an Academy Award or two come February, so lets get to it.

The first major award-giving organization to chime in once again this year is the National Board of Review, the oldest organization in America dedicated to motion pictures as art and entertainment. The Board is made up of knowledgeable film buffs, academics, young film professionals, and students in the New York metropolitan area. This year the NBR has chosen Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire as the Best Film of the Year. As Dave Itzkoff over at The Carpetbagger appropriately asks, “How much longer can Slumdog Millionaire be classified as an Oscar longshot?” This win for Slumdog should help solidify its chances, showing that it could very well be this year’s Cinderella story. Last year the NBR was one of the first organizations to recognize No Country for Old Men as Best Film, only to see it go on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

At this point though, the Oscar landscape is still so very crowded with many contenders, including Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Revolutionary Road still awaiting their theatrical releases. Not to take anything away from the National Board of Review, but it is still anyone’s game.

Also receiving honors were Clint Eastwood for best actor for his portrayal of an elderly, bigoted widower who befriends his Asian immigrant neighbors in Gran Torino. Anne Hathaway earned best actress for her role as a troubled young woman overcoming her demons in Rachel Getting Married. David Fincher was named best director for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Josh Brolin and Penelope Cruz recieving best supporting performance awards for Milk and Vicky Cristina Barcelona respectively.

What is interesting is that many of these winners are the same as what I have been tracking, save for Clint Eastwood’s Best Actor win for Gran Torino. So far all of the buzz is leaning the direction of Mickey Rourke for his performance in The Wrestler, a film that did make the NBR’s list of the ten best films of the year. As it stands and as far as I’ve seen, Anne Hathaway has a commanding lead in the Best Actress category. Her performance in Rachel Getting Married is the stuff that great careers are made of.

For the full list of awards given by the National Board of Review, head on over to their website here. As I do every year, I will be keeping an eye on all of the happenings of Award season and will be reporting back to you often with all of my predictions. And if years past are any indicator, those predictions will likely miss the mark by mere inches.

For more check out the Oscar Beat ’08 homepage.


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