New York Times: National Board of Review Names Restrepo Best Documentary of the Year

December 2nd, 2010

December 2, 2010, 5:22 pm
‘Social Network’ Nabs Season’s First Big Award
Justin Timberlake, left, and Jesse Eisenberg in a scene from “The Social Network.”Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures Justin Timberlake, left, and Jesse Eisenberg in a scene from “The Social Network.”

“The Social Network” was a big hit with the National Board of Review, which on Thursday awarded it several top prizes, including best feature, best director (David Fincher), best actor (Jesse Eisenberg) and best adapted screenplay (Aaron Sorkin). The group’s president, Annie Schulhof, lauded the truthy drama for being a timeless story that will “appeal to many generations,” especially if or when Facebook takes over the world.

Lesley Manville got the best actress nod for playing an alcoholic secretary in the Mike Leigh film “Another Year,” and Jennifer Lawrence, who has earned best actress buzz for “Winter’s Bone,” got a breakthrough performance award. Christian Bale won best supporting actor for playing a strung out ex-boxer in “The Fighter,” and Jacki Weaver got best supporting actress for “Animal Kingdom,” an Australian crime drama. “Toy Story 3” won best animated film, and “Restrepo,” Sebastian Junger and Tim Harrington’s year-long look at a military base in Afghanistan, best documentary.

The National Board of Review, a New York non-profit organization known mainly for doling out adulation (“the Board’s core activities include fostering commentary on all aspects of film production,” according to its Web site), has been a harbinger of Oscar fortune in the past, picking winners like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country for Old Men.” But last year, its top prize went to “Up in the Air,” which saw its Academy standing decline gradually through the rest of the season. The event, held this year on Jan. 11, does have a reputation for getting a lot stars in one room, since the board members are generous with the trophy giving. This year, for example, Sofia Coppola will get a “Special Filmmaking Achievement Award” for writing, directing, and producing “Somewhere,” and “The Town,” starring Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner, earned a nod for best ensemble.

This year the N.B.R. “Freedom of Expression” prize went to not one but three films with noteworthy casts: “Fair Game” (Sean Penn, Naomi Watts); “Conviction” (Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell) and “Howl” (James Franco). The list-happy N.B.R. also anointed its 10 best films, its 5 best foreign films, its 5 best documentaries and its 10 best indie films. The full list of deserving winners can be found on the organization’s Web site.