The National Board of Review has just announced its film awards for the year, kicking off the film frenzy that leads up to the Academy Awards in March (Sunday, March 7th). Leading the charge are several films that will get wider release over the Christmas holidays. The National Board gave the top film prize to Up in the Air with its star, George Clooney named as Best Actor (which he co-shared with Morgan Freeman for Invictus). It also won best adapted screenplay and Anna Kendrick won for best supporting actress.
Best director went to Invictus director, Clint Eastwood. I have heard nothing but glowing reviews for the film, An Education, and its star Carey Mulligan took best actress award. Woody Harrelson won best supporting actor for The Messenger (he plays a captain who is given the job of informing the families of fallen soldiers.)
Rounding out the awards are Up (currently available in HBPL Media) for best animated film, The Cove (available 12/8 from HBPL Media) for best documentary and The Prophet for best foreign film.
So what should you see over the holidays?? I would put Up in the Air, An Education and Invictus at the top of your list:
Up in the Air: George Clooney take on the role of a management consultant, a harbinger of doom whose job is primarily firing people for companies that are downsizing. His work takes him around the country, helping him pursue his private goal of accumulating ten million miles in his frequent flyer account and with it, entry to an elite club. Enter a new recruit that introduces video conferencing that would ground his operation. The film is based on a novel by the same name written Walter Kirn (available at HBPL). Another indie feather in the cap of Juno director, Jason Reitman.
An Education: Based on the memoir of British journalist Lynn Barber (book not available in the US), this film follows the relationship of a sixteen year old school girl (Carey Mulligan) with a 35 year old man (Peter Sarsgaard). Carey Mulligan, who in her first major feature role is being compared by everyone with Audrey Hepburn and was the darling of this year’s film festival circuit. You think you have seen this before but this screenplay by Nick Hornby (About a Boy and High Fidelity) is a fresh, funny and moving look at a young girl's journey from innocence to experience.
Invictus: The film, based upon the non-fiction book "Playing the Enemy" by John Carlin (available at HBPL, also available under the title Invictus) follows Nelson Mandela’s ambitious plan to use the national rugby team, the Springboks -- long an embodiment of white-supremacist rule -- to grip the new South Africa as the team prepares to host the 1995 World Cup. Matt Damon plays the captain of the Springboks and Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela. One more film to add to the impressive directing career of Clint Eastwood.
So take a break from your busy holiday schedule to catch a film. Be it one of next year’s award considerations or just light holiday fare, it will take you away for a few hours. Films can make you laugh, make you cry and/or make you think.Then you can leave the dark and return to the celebrations of the season.