The National Board of Review, widely considered a harbinger of the Academy Awards, has chosen “The Social Network” as the best film of the year.
The NBR lavished a total of four awards on the film, naming David Fincher best director, Aaron Sorkin’s script best adapted screenplay and Jesse Eisenberg best actor. Eisenberg plays Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg in the film, which has won critical praise and earned more than $180 million worldwide at the box office.
In the past three years, the National Board of Review winner has twice gone on to win best picture at the Oscars: “No Country for Old Men” in 2007 and “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2008.Last year’s winner was “Up in the Air.”
The National Board of Review is one of the first notable groups to announce its picks for the year, beginning in earnest the long drumbeat of critics groups and guilds that will name their own choices ahead of the Oscars on Feb. 27. Its robust backing of “The Social Network” will only add to the movie’s reputation as an awards front-runner.
Lesley Manville was named best actress for her performance as a desperate middle-aged secretary in “Another Year,” Mike Leigh’s British drama about friends and relations struggling for love and connections.
Best supporting actor went to Christian Bale, who plays Dicky Eklund, the junkie former boxer and older brother to Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) in David O. Russell’s “The Fighter.”
Shut out entirely was “The King’s Speech,” the drama about the struggles of King George VI (Colin Firth) with stuttering. It has been seen by Oscar prognosticators as the movie most likely to contest “The Social Network” for top honors.
The National Board of Review, which is composed of film historians, students and educators, was founded in 1909. The awards will be handed out Jan. 11 in a New York gala hosted by Meredith Vieira.