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Nat'l Board of Review gets 'Social'

Posted by Ty Burr  December 2, 2010 04:56 PM

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And the 2010 award season begins... Now. The Independent Spirit nominations (see Wesley's entry below) have been trying to steal its thunder, but the National Board of Review awards remain the true canary in the coal mine of the trophy season, first out of the gate with the kind of mainstream end-of-year picks that set the rough parameters of what will ultimately become the race for Oscar.

To that end, David Fincher's "The Social Network" is officially the film to beat -- for now. The true saga (ok, not really) of the founding of Facebook was awarded best film of 2010, while Jesse Eisenberg won best actor, Fincher best director, and Aaron Sorkin best adapted screenplay. Fine, but what are we to make of the rest of the list, an intriguing if not bizarre patchwork quilt in the best NBR tradition? Best original screenplay goes to "Buried"? Really? The Ryan Reynolds coffin movie with the snake that comes out of noplace logical except the screenwriter's imagination? Best Documentary: "Waiting for 'Superman'"? Perfectly acceptable choice, but why are five further non-fiction films praised as the "Top Five Documentaries"? Shouldn't that be "The Second-Best Through Sixth-Best Documentaries"? Same goes for the best foreign language film ("Of Gods and Men," which has yet to get a US theatrical release) and the five awarded films that aren't the best foreign film but are really close. The "Top Independent Films" citation is also a little wonky, since six of the ten films feature name stars ("Buried" is in there again) and only "Fish Tank," "Animal Kingdom," and "Monsters" are what you'd call genuine off-Hollywood films.

"Toy Story 3" gets best animated feature -- but of course. But shouldn't the "Spotlight" award to "The Illusionist" really be called the "second-best animated feature award"? You bet, but that wouldn't sound as special. It goes on (Fincher is best director but Sofia Coppola gets the "special filmmaking achievement for writing, directing, and producing 'Somewhere'"?) and I have to admit that as much of an unholy mess as these awards are, they're charming in their disorganized generosity of spirit and probably closer to the heart of what real movie love is about than a stodgy pageant like the Oscars. Who are these people who call themselves the NBR? I have no idea, but I'm glad they're batting first.

The full list of National Board of Review winners for 2010 is after the jump.

Best Film
The Social Network

Best Foreign Language Film
Of Gods and Men

Top Five Foreign Films
(in alphabetical order) I Am Love, Incendies, Life, Above All, Soul Kitchen, White Material

Best Documentary
Waiting for "Superman"

Top Five Documentaries
(in alphabetical order) A Film Unfinished, Inside Job, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Restrepo, The Tillman Story,

Top Independent Films
(in alphabetical order) Animal Kingdom, Buried, Fish Tank, The Ghost Writer, Greenberg, Let Me In, Monsters, Please Give, Somewhere, Youth in Revolt

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 Ensemble Cast
The Town

Breakthrough Performance
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone

Best Director
David Fincher, The Social Network

Debut Directors
Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, Restrepo

Best Adapted Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Spotlight Award
Sylvain Chomet and Jacques Tati, The Illusionist

Best Original Screenplay
Chris Sparling, Buried

Best Animated Feature
Toy Story 3

Special Filmmaking Achievement
Sofia Coppola for writing, directing, and producing Somewhere

Production Design Award
Dante Ferretti, Shutter Island

William K. Everson Award For Film History
Leonard Maltin

Freedom of Expression
Fair Game, Conviction, Howl

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is's features editor.

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