The National Board of Review:
Yes. The critics group to which no actual critics belong. Who are these people? Why do the Oscar-obsessed care? Because they are as accurate an indicator of what the Oscars will look like as the Golden Globes. Since 2000, every single one of the Best Pictures has at least gone on to be nominated at the Oscars. Lately, they've tended to not choose the same Best Picture as the Academy, but they at least got a nominee correct.
Here are their choices:
Best Film: Hugo
The rest of their Top 10:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Ides of March
The Tree of Life
Director: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants
Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk about Kevin
Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Original Screenplay: 50/50
Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Foreign Film: A Separation
So, a VERY different group of picks than we saw with the New York Film Critics. In fact, the only category that matched is Foreign Film. I wasn't familiar with A Separation, but now I'm intrigued. Not just because of the picks, but what I've been reading about it. Many people calling it the best film they've ever seen! I always find that to be a stretch, but it's more rare than you'd think to hear people say that.
Beyond that, it was a very strong showing for Hugo, obviously. It really needs it too. Hugo is on its way to becoming a box office disaster of epic proportions. If it ONLY loses $100 million, the studio will be lucky. Winning these pre-awards should help in its advertising.
Also a strong showing for The Descendants, which many had expected to do much better with the NYFCC, but didn't win a single prize. There are some notable films missing from that Top 10 list. The Help was expected to be there. Moneyball is missing as well. Also, Midnight in Paris, which was not only considered a shoo-in for these kind of awards, but is being looked at as a serious contender for Best Picture.
A small break in the awards for the next week or so. Nothing until December 11, when the Boston and Los Angeles Film Critics announce their awards. Boston, in particular, is a good Oscar predictor, having voted for the same Best Picture as the Academy 4 of the last 5 years. The lone exception was that last year they chose The Social Network. The Los Angeles Critics usually choose an eventual nominee, but their choice rarely wins Best Picture.