Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge (pictured) was named Best Film of 2001 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, the first winner in what promises to be one of the most wide open awards seasons, across virtually every category, in recent memory.
The Board of Review is seenhas having quirkier tastes than most US critics' circles - lastyear, for example, it was the only body to name Quills as best film - and it certainly exhibits amore maverick streak that either the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards.Nonetheless, Moulin Rouge'searly win will certainly start the Oscar momentum rolling for the 20thCentury Fox musical extravaganza, especially after also winning the ScreenInternational prize for bestnon-European film at last week's European Film Academy awards in Berlin.
That said, the Australianproduction won in only one other category, that of best supporting actor forJim Broadbent - an award that also honoured the UK actor'sperformance in Iris. However,Nicole Kidman, star of both Moulin Rouge and The Others, wasoverlooked in favour of Halle Berry, who is now winning the best notices of hercareer for a bravura turn in the independent film Monster's Ball.
Billy Bob Thornton, who alsostarred in Monster's Ball,was deemed best actor by the Board of Review, not only for that particularperformance but also for his lead roles in both Bandits and The Man Who Wasn't There.
The best supporting actressprize was also awarded on the basis of an annual body work, this year going toAustralian actress Cate Blanchett for her secondary roles in a trio of films: TheMan Who Cried, Shipping News and The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of TheRing.
In another twist, In TheBedroom, a film that has beenwinning plaudits ever since Sundance for the performances of Tom Wilkinson,Sissy Spacek and Marisa Tomei failed to win any acting recognition from theBoard of Review, despite coming runner-up in the best picture category.Instead, Todd Field, the actor who made his debut behind the camera on InThe Bedroom, was named bestdirector, and also shared the screenwriting prize with Rob Festinger.
The ensemble acting actingprize went in the end to Fred Schepisi's Last Orders, the U film that features a bevy of British actingtalent led by the quartet of Michael Caine, Tom Courtney, David Hemmings andBob Hoskins, and supported by Helen Mirren and Ray Winstone.
In the other feature filmcategories, Amores Perros, theMexican hit that is a hangover from the previous year, was named bestforeign-language feature. The Endurance, chronicling Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated Antarctic expedition,was named best documentary. Shrekwas named best animated feature, an early sign, perhaps, that it might prevailover Monsters Inc in one of themost hotly contested Oscar categories next year.
The full list of NationalBoard of Review winners is as follows:
Best Picture, ranked inorder of preference:
1. Moulin Rouge
2. InThe Bedroom
6. BlackHawk Down
7. TheMan Who Wasn't There
Top five foreign-languagefilms:
1. Amores Perros
2. BehindThe Sun
3. DarkBlue World
4. NoMan's Land
Best Animated Feature:
Billy Bob Thornton
The Man Who Wasn't There; Monster's Ball; Bandits
Best Supporting Actor:
Moulin Rouge; Iris
Best Supporting Actress:
The Man Who Cried; Shipping News; The Lord Of The Rings
Best Acting Ensemble:
In The Bedroom
Rob Festinger, Todd Field
In The Bedroom
Best Production Design: