NEW YORK (Reuters) - Facebook film “The Social Network” picked up four awards, including best movie, from a key industry group in the first major honors of Hollywood’s awards season, helping to narrow the list of this year’s Oscar contenders.
The National Board of Review, a U.S.-based group of movie industry watchers and film professionals, gave best director to “Social Network” maker David Fincher, and its best actor award went to Jesse Eisenberg, who portrays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Aaron Sorkin won for adapted screenplay.
The movie offers audiences a fictional portrayal of the rise of the social networking website from an idea dreamed up in a college dormitory to its first one million users.
Among other top awards, the National Board of Review gave its best actress trophy to Lesley Manville for “Another Year,” which tells of one year in the life of a married couple.
Christian Bale was named best supporting actor for his work as a faded, drug-addicted boxer in “The Fighter” and Jacki Weaver claimed best supporting actress with her role in Australian crime film “Animal Kingdom.”
The National Board of Review was formed more than 100 years ago as a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting movies as an art form and entertainment, and each year is the first U.S. group to pick a best film from Hollywood’s major studios.
In fact, it names a list of top 10 movies, and many other industry groups closely eye that roster to help establish their own picks heading toward February’s Oscars, the world’s top movie honors from the Beverly Hills-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Making the top 10 list this year are director Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” “The King’s Speech” which tells of England’s King George VI’s struggle to overcome stammering, indie darling “Winter’s Bone,” animated comedy “Toy Story 3” and “The Fighter.” Rounding out the list are “Hereafter,” “Inception,” “Shutter Island,” “The Town” and “True Grit.”
Notably absent from the list were several films that have been highly touted ahead of awards season, including director Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.”
While the group’s awards and list are closely watched, they are not always indicative of which movies will win Oscars. Last year’s National Board of Review best film pick was “Up in the Air,” and while it was nominated for the best picture Academy Award, it did not win.
In other key categories, the National Board of Review gave its best documentary award to “Waiting for ‘Superman’” which looks at the faltering U.S. educational system.
France’s “Of Gods and Men,” about Cistercian monks facing off against religious fundamentalists, was named best foreign language film.
Disney-Pixar comedy “Toy Story 3” was picked best animated film, and best original screenplay went to Chris Sparling for his independent film “Buried,” about a man buried alive.
“Winter’s Bone” star Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays a girl searching for her father in a drug-infested community of rural Arkansas, was given an award for breakthrough performance, and director Sofia Coppola was given a special honor for her “Somewhere.”
The National Board of Review's awards will be given out at a banquet on January 11 in New York City. A full list of winners can be found at www.www.nbrmp.org.
editing by Christine Kearney