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'Slumdog Millionaire' wins National Board of Review nod as best film

" Slumdog Millionaire," Danny Boyle's stirring fable about a young man who reflects upon his poverty-stricken life while competing to win 20 million rupees on India's version of "Who Wants Be A Millionaire," on Thursday was named best film of 2008 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

Clint Eastwood received best actor honors as an elderly, bigoted widower who befriends his Asian immigrant neighbors in "Gran Torino," and 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," a fable based on the classic short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Best supporting honors went to Josh Brolin for "Milk" and Penelope Cruz for " Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

Kazakhstan's "Mongo" was the NBR's choice for best foreign language film, while "Man on Wire" earned best documentary honors.

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, which is made up of film professionals, educators, historians and students, is the first high-profile group to announce winners in the movie awards season. Next week, the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announce their nominees; the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the New York Film Critics Circle will also reveal their winners for the best of 2008.

The NBR is also one of the bellwethers for the Oscars. Last year's best picture winner, "No Country for Old Men" went on to receive the Academy Award for best feature film. And two years ago, several NBR winners earned Oscars including best actor Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland," best actress Helen Mirren for "The Queen" and best director Martin Scorsese for "The Departed."

The awards will be presented at the annual gala on Jan. 14 at Cipriani's in New York City.

Other winners announced Thursday include:

Best animated feature: "Wall-E"

Best ensemble cast: "Doubt"

Breakthrough performance by an actor: Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"

Breakthrough performance by an actress: Viola Davis, "Douby"

Best directorial debut: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"

Best original screenplay: Nick Schenk, "Gran Torino"

Best adapted screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire" and Eric Roth, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

Spotlight Award: Melissa Leo, "Frozen River" and Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"

The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression: "Trumbo"

William K. Everson Film History Award: Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris

Top 10 Independent Films of the Year:

"Frozen River," "In Bruges," "In Search of a Midnight Kiss," "Mr. Foe," "Rachel Getting Married," "Snow Angels," "Son of Rambow," "Wendy and Lucy," "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," "The Visitor"

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