The National Board of Review has named the Coen Brothers' "No Country For Old Men" as the year's best picture, launching the critical award season.
In addition to winning the NBR's best film honor, "No Country" also won for Joel and Ethan Coen's adapted screenplay and for best ensemble cast.
The NBR is usually the first awards group out of the shoot with its screening body made up of film professionals, educators, students and historians. Although the NBR best film hasn't won a best picture Oscar since 1999 ("American Beauty"), the group's past five winners -- "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Good Night, And Good Luck," "Mystic River," "The Hours," "Moulin Rouge" -- have all at least been nominated for the Academy's top prize.
The NBR also made a list of 10 favorites beyond "No Country For Old Men." In alphabetical order, that group was "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Atonement," "The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Bucket List," "Into the Wild," "Juno," "The Kite Runner," "Lars and the Real Girl," "Michael Clayton" and "Sweeney Todd."
This year's NBR best actor and actress winners were "Michael Clayton" star George Clooney and "Away From Her" leading lady Julie Christie. Supporting awards went to Casey Affleck for "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and Amy Ryan of "Gone Baby Gone." Breakthrough actor and actress were Ellen Page ("Juno") and Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild").
Other individual prizes went to Tim Burton (best director for "Sweeney Todd") and Diablo Cody and Nancy Oliver, who tied for original screenplay for "Juno" and "Lars and the Real Girl."
Other winning films were "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (best foreign film), "Ratatouille" (best animated film) and "Body of War" (best documentary."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun