The National Board of Review's movie awards came out today, unofficially (or is that officially? Not sure) kicking off movie awards season. And you know I live for this stuff, so I'm in the mood to pick it apart. NBR gets a (not undeserved) reputation for being the least relevant of the major precursors, but every once in awhile -- I'm thinking Alec Baldwin and Patricia Clarkson in 2003 -- the NBR clues us in to a nominee that wasn't really on the radar before.
Anyway, the 2006 winners:
BEST PICTURE: Letters from Iwo Jima
Letters from Iwo Jima
-- Probably among the Oscar frontrunners now, if not THE film to beat. The Academy sure does love it some Clint Eastwood.
-- This is the kind of film that won't get as much of a bump from the critics awards as it will get harmed if it's omitted from the critics awards. So showing up here isn't going to give it a boost so much as help keep it on par.
-- I don't take this as significant in the slightest. Edward Zwick got big love for The Last Samurai at the NBR in 2003 and then nowhere else.
The Devil Wears Prada
-- This is interesting. This isn't a Best Picture film by any stretch, but it does make me wonder if my mid-year predictions that Streep's sure thing nomination could pull Stanley Tucci or Emily Blunt along with her could come true. The DVD release and its ad campaign is reminding us just how good they both were. The Globe nominations will make or break their case for Oscar, I think, but this placement here is encouraging.
Flags of Our Fathers
-- Here solely to make Clint Eastwood's story that much bigger, I'd bet. I haven't seen either one, so I can't comment. But the "two masterpieces in one year" will be Clint's story to flog until February.
The History Boys
-- Pretty left-field, and ultimately it won't go anywhere, but I really liked the movie, so I'm happy. I was hoping, though, that the second Fox Searchlight entry would go to The Last King of Scotland.
Little Miss Sunshine
-- As with Babel, a mention here was expected and the only news would have been if it got snubbed.
Notes on a Scandal
-- This movie is peaking at the right time.
The Painted Veil
-- This one could be as well. I've heard a lot of good things about it in recent weeks.
BEST ACTOR: Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland
-- Good to see. I'm really pulling for him this season. Now if I could only see the damn movie.
BEST ACTRESS: Helen Mirren - The Queen
-- And thus the Mirren juggernaut begins in earnest.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Djimon Hounsou - Blood Diamond
-- If we're following the Zwick/Last Samurai analogy, I suppose it's possible that Honsou could pull a Ken Watanabe here, but...I really doubt it.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Catherine O'Hara - For Your Consideration
-- This one's very intriguing. The knock on For Your Consideration's awards chances at the beginning of the year, aside from the fact that Guest's movies have never attracted Oscar attention, was that the Industry would not take well to being mocked for their excesses. Except, after seeing the movie, the film industry isn't being mocked nearly as much as the publicity/infotainment/star machine that takes humble (if simple and deluded) actors, chews them up, and spits them out. And it's O'Hara's character that embodies that most clearly. You don't think the Hollywood community -- the ACTING community -- would ultimately go for that? Not to mention the built-up goodwill that she's amassed from four Guest films already...I could seriously see this Oscar nod happening, particularly in what still seems like a weak supporting actress category. One to keep an eye on.
BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese - The Departed
BEST ACREENPLAY - ADAPTED: The Painted Veil - Ron Nyswaner
-- Once again, a movie that looks to be peaking at the right time.
BEST SCREENPLAY - ORIGINAL: Stranger Than Fiction - Zach Helm
-- Yay! I don't have many awards hopes for this movie, but I'm glad to see it show up anywhere.
BREAKTHROUGH MALE: Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson
-- Hoping this one pays off as well, not that I was able to see it -- grr.
BREAKTHROUGH FEMALE: Rinko Kikuchi - Babel and Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
-- Hudson's something of a slam dunk nominee, though I wouldn't expect to see her on too many more critics awards lists. Kikiuchi, on the other hand, could take some of those home, but I continue to think her Oscar hopes are slim. It's just not the type of character they usually go for, and especially not with Adriana Barazza in the same film whose character is much more sympathetic.
Anyway, next up are the L.A. Film Critics, who generally do a pretty good job at this kind of thing. We'll have to wait and see.