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Predictions: Who'll win National Board of Review

December 1, 2010 |  5:24 pm

The National Board of Review will unveil its award champs tomorrow and it's foolhardy to try and predict winners. Even though the group has "review" in its title, it's not comprised of film reviewers. It's a film-appreciation society comprised of New York sophisticates (lawyers, socialites, etc.) who have quirky tastes. About 15 or 16 of them sit on its Exceptional Photoplay Committee and have the most clout in choosing winners, but a fraction of the votes cast by NBR's screening group gets factored in too. The latter gang is comprised of about 50 people, largely film students. No NBR members' names are made public.

National board of review winners newsThe current regime seized power around 2003 and began purging old members. So, if you're looking for patterns in the NBR award results, it's smart to focus on just the past five years or so to get a good sense of voters' film tastes.

Over at Gold Derby, I'm running a contest to predict this year's winners and results are surprising. Most participants believe "The Social Network" will win best picture. In olden days, more traditional films used to reign. "The King's Speech" fits that voting trend now, but NBR's taste has been a bit more contemporary of late. Last year, "Up in the Air" swept the prizes, but that may have been because NBR is absolutely crazy for everything having to do with George Clooney. Heck, it named that snoozefest "Good Night, and Good Luck" best picture in 2005.

NBR voters are also excessively infatuated with everything by Clint Eastwood, so expect "Hereafter" to nab at least one prize this year, although certainly not best picture. (Not successful enough.)

Most voters in the Gold Derby contest also make a bold forecast for lead actress: Natalie Portman ("Black Swan"). Maybe that's not so surprising considering they opted for another pretty ingnue last year: Carey Mulligan in "An Education," who made them regret the choice by delivering an awkwardly boring acceptance speech at the podium. But Annette Bening ("The Kids Are All Right") poses a formidable foe. She's an old pal of NBR, having won for "Being Julia" in 2004.

Here are my own foolhardy predictions:

BEST PICTURE:  "The King's Speech"
BEST ACTOR:  Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
BEST ACTRESS:  Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:  Andrew Garfield, "The Social Network"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:  Amy Adams, "The Fighter"
BEST DIRECTOR:  Ben Affleck, "The Town"

 -- Tom O'Neil