Perhaps I am the only one, but I am quite surprised that "Letters from Iwo Jima" was selected as the Best Film by the National Board of Review yesterday. Buzz has been growing for this film since Clint's "Flags of Our Fathers" tanked at the box office (although "Flags" made the NBR Top 10). The studio instantly began a strong whisper campaign that "Letters" was the better film anyway. Maybe they're actually right. Still, I thought the release of the film in 2006 as opposed to the intended 2007 was so transparent. What, Clint can't deal with one of his movies actually being skipped over come awards time? He's not that far removed from his pitiful string of films from 1993 - 2002 which included: "Blood Work," "Space Cowboys," "True Crime," "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," "Absolute Power," "The Bridges of Madison County," and "A Perfect World," which were all made consecutively after the great "Unforgiven".
I already noted my surprise that "Dreamgirls" and "The Queen" were omitted. "Dreamgirls" because it seems to be a better film than "Chicago" and "Moulin Rouge," and both of those films made previous NBR Top Ten's. "The Queen" because it meets all of the perceived NBR criteria: dialogue-driven, political, damn good. It shouldn't have much impact on either one as the awards season continues. If both slip off the radar of some of the key critics groups, then we can start talking.
I'm not sure where "The Devil Wears Prada" came from, particularly considering that "United 93," and "World Trade Center," were out there. I predicted that both "Half Nelson" and "Bobby" would make the Top 10. They didn't, but they were both noted in the Top 10 Independent Films.
"Little Miss Sunshine," and "The Departed," will continue to roll through the awards season. "Notes on a Scandal," "The Painted Veil" and "The History Boys" could pick up some momentum as well. Personally, I'm psyched to see "Blood Diamond" in the list. I have not seen the film, but I like the cast: DiCaprio, Hounsou, Connelly.