'Iwo Jima' Wins National Board of Review Top Prize


The 2006-07 awards season kicked off on Wednesday (Dec. 6) as the National Board of Review presented its best picture prize to Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima."

It was a surprise victory for Eastwood's Japanese-language World War II drama, which only recently bumped up its release date to become eligible for this year's various kudos-fests.

Eastwood actually scored a double victory with the NBR. Joining "Iwo Jima" in the organization's Top 10 was Eastwood's English-language companion piece "Flags of Our Fathers." Also making the Top 10 were "Babel," "Blood Diamond," "The Departed," "The Devil Wears Prada," "The History Boys," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Notes on a Scandal."

Among the major Oscar favorites that didn't make the NBR's Top 10 were "Dreamgirls," "Little Children," "The Good German," "The Good Shepherd," "Apocalypto," "United 93," "World Trade Center" and "The Queen."

"The Queen" wasn't entirely shut out, though, as star Helen Mirren won for best actress, with the best actor win going to Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland." Supporting prizes went to Djimon Hounsou of "The Blood Diamond" and Catherine O'Hara of "For Your Consideration." Ryan Gosling ("Half Nelson"), Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls") and Rinko Kikuchi ("Babel") were named breakthrough performers.

Martin Scorsese won best director for "The Departed," which also was given an ensemble prize. Zach Helm ("Stranger than Fiction") and Ron Nyswaner ("The Painted Veil") won original and adapted screenplay respectively.

In the most predictable of categories, "Volver" was best foreign film, "An Inconvenient Truth" best documentary and "Cars" best animated feature.

The National Board of Review, a nonprofit organization consisting of film professionals, educators, students and historians, traditionally gives the year's first film honors with the Los Angeles and New York critics presenting awards in the week to come.

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