Oscar Beat: National Board of Review Kicks Off Awards Season

For a moment there, you may have thought that you had seen the last of “The Oscar Beat”, our now annual feature that brings you the best (and worst) of Awards season. But then again, after two years of drudging through the winter months with our finger on the pulse of the Academy voters, how could we even think to pass up a chance to do it again? So this year we are back, albeit a tad late in the season, but back nonetheless. In 2007’s Oscar Beat, you will find more news, more predictions, more sharp-witted opinions and even more Rejects jumping into the game. Together we will get through this test of will that they call Awards season.

This year’s season officially began early last week when the National Board of Review announced it selections for 2007. Taking the top prize was No Country for Old Men, with Tim Burton taking the Best Director nod for Sweeney Todd. Let’s take a look at the official list of awards:

Best Film: No Country for Old Men
Best Director: Tim Burton – Sweeney Todd
Best Actor: George Clooney – Michael Clayton
Best Actress: Julie Christie – Away From Her
Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
Best Foreign Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Best Documentary: Body of War
Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille
Best Ensemble Cast: No Country for Old Men
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Emile Hirsch – Into The Wild
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Ellen Page – Juno
Best Directorial Debut: Ben Affleck – Gone Baby Gone
Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody – Juno and Nancy Oliver – Lars and the Real Girl
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen – No Country For Old Men
Career Achievement: Michael Douglas
William K. Everson Film History Award: Robert Osborne
Career Achievement in Cinematography: Roger Deakins
The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression: The Great Debaters and Persepolis

What is great about the NBR’s selections is that they include a very diverse set of winners. While No Country for Old Men was the big winner, taking home 3 awards and the big prize of the night, the other major awards were all from different films. One particular person to keep an eye on throughout the entire season will be Ellen Page for her performance in Juno. In my personal opinion, hers was not only the Breakthrough Performance of the Year, but the year’s most impressive number — male, female, lead, supporting or otherwise.

One distinct absence from the major awards was Paul Thomas Anderson’s Best Picture front-runner There Will Be Blood, starring Paul Dano and Daniel Day Lewis. Blood didn’t even make the NBR’s list of the Top Ten Films of the year, which can be seen below along with the Top Five Foreign Films, Top 5 Documentaries and Top Ten Independent Films.

Top Ten Films:
(In alphabetical order)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bucket List
Into the Wild
The Kite Runner
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
Sweeney Todd

The Top Ten Films list contains a few very odd choices for sure. The Bourne Ultimatum, while it was a very good film, would not have been my first thought when it came to a Top Ten list by an establishment such as the NBR. Though, as a fan of the series, it is good to see it pop up so early in the season. Also, The Bucket List — the Morgan Freeman / Jack Nicholson buddy life lesson release from Warner Brothers made the Top Ten list. It is a film that will not make its theatrical run until later this month, making is a tough one to judge. Although, it needs to be said that the trailers have all screamed “Box Office Bait” louder than they have “Oscar Bait”.

Top Five Foreign Films:
(In alphabetical order)
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
The Band’s Visit
The Counterfeiters
La Vie en Rose
Lust, Caution

Top Five Documentary Films:
(In alphabetical order)
Darfur Now
In the Shadow of the Moon
Taxi to the Darkside

Top Ten Independent Films:
(In alphabetical order)
Away From Her
Great World of Sound
In the Valley of Elah
A Mighty Heart
The Namesake
The Savages
Starting Out in the Evening

Rounding out the NBR’s set of lists are the best Independent films of the year — and what a year it was for Independent cinema. Film festivals such as Sundance and Toronto seemed to flourish with great films from some of Hollywood’s most exciting young talents. And while Juno could easily be on the list of Indie flicks, it crept its way into the big dog list — leaving sensational Indies such as Waitress, Once, The Savages and Great World of Sound to fill this final list. If you are looking for a list of great little films to pick up on DVD, this last list would be a fantastic place to start.

So there you have it — Awards season has officially begun. Not just because of the NBR, but also because we at Film School Rejects have picked up the Oscar Beat. From the looks of things, there may not be one clear movie to top all movies this year, which always makes for a fun and exciting run toward February 24, 2008.

Click Here the full 2007 Oscar Beat Archive.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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