The first blood in this highlycontentious awards season has gone to Clint Eastwood's Mystic River, which was named today best film by the usuallyidiosyncratic National Board of Review (NBR).
Sean Penn was named best actorfor his performances in both Mystic River, released by Warner Bros, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 21 Grams, released byFocus Features. Diane Keaton was named best actress for Sony Pictures' romanticcomedy Something's Gotta Give,directed by Nancy Meyers.
In other NBR honours, AlecBaldwin won best supporting actor for his role in Lions Gate's casino-set dramaThe Cooler, Patricia Clarkson gother best supporting actress bandwagon underway with a win for roles inUnited Artists' Thanksgiving comedy-drama Pieces Of April and Miramax's comedy-drama The Station Agent, and Ed Zwick won best director honours for WarnerBros' epic The Last Samurai.
The winner of the bestdocumentary award went to Errol Morris' The Fog Of War, a stirring apologia by former US defense secretaryRobert McNamara that Sony Pictures Classics has slated for limited release onDec 19. For the first time since the 1940s, the NBR decided to announce a listof its top five documentaries, citing an overwhelming number of qualitysubmissions.
Denys Arcand's TheBarbarian Invasions, which Miramaxis distributing in the US, won best foreign film.
Breakthrough performanceawards went to Paul Giammati for HBO Films/Fine Line Features' comedy-drama AmericanSplendor and Charlize Theron for herportrayal of executed serial killer Aileen Wournos in Newmarket's true-lifedrama Monster.
Jim Sheridan, Naomi andKirsten Sheridan won best original screenplay for the family drama InAmerica, loosely based on his own earlystruggles as a New York immigrant, while Anthony Minghella took adaptedscreenplay honours for Miramax's Civil War epic Cold Mountain.
Buena Vista's global hit FindingNemo was named best animated featureand New Line's The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King won best acting by an ensemble - although the film pointedlyfailed to make NRB's list of top ten films of the year (see full list below).
Among a raft of specialawards, Morgan Freeman was cited for his career achievement; Hans Zimmer waslauded for a career music compositions that has included scores for both Gladiator and The Lion King; and the cinematography career achievement award forJohn Toll, who won Oscars for Braveheart and Legends Of The Falland worked on The Last Samurai.
Norman Jewison, whose latestrelease The Statement opensthrough Sony Pictures Classics on Dec 12, won the Billy Wilder Award forExcellence in Directing; Richard LaGravanese and the late Ted Demme won theWilliam K Everson Award for Film History for IFC Films' A Decade Under theInfluence; and the Producers Awardwent to the formidable trio of Gale Anne Hurd, Kathleen Kennedy and ChristineVachon.
"This was a strong year forthe studios," NBR president Annie Schulhof said in a statement. "They producedfilms with powerful storylines and characters with their own moral codes."Honourees will receive their awards at the NBR's 95th anniversarycelebration and annual gala on Jan 13 2004 in New York City.
THE 2003 NATIONALBOARD OF REVIEW WINNERS:
TOP 10 FILMS OF 2003:
1 Mystic River (Warner Bros, dir:Clint Eastwood) - Best Film
2 The Last Samurai (Warner Bros,dir: Edward Zwick)
3 The Station Agent (Miramax,dir: Thomas McCarthy)
4 21 Grams (Focus Features, dir.Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
5 House Of Sand And Fog (Dreamworks,dir: Vadim Perelman)
6 Lost In Translation (FocusFeatures, dir: Sofia Coppola)
7 Cold Mountain (Miramax, dir:Anthony Minghella)
8 In America (Fox Searchlight,dir: Jim Sheridan)
9 Seabiscuit (Universal, dir:Gary Ross)
10 Master And Commander (20THCentury Fox, dir: Peter Weir)
TOP FIVE FOREIGN FILMS OF 2003
1 The Barbarian Invasions (Miramax,dir: Denys Arcand) - Best Foreign Film
2 Best Of Youth (Miramax, dir:Marco Tullio Giordana)
3 Monsieur Ibrahim (Sony PicturesClassics, dir: Francois Dupeyron
4 Autumn Spring (First LookPictures Releasing, dir: Vladimir Michalek)
5 The Man On The Train (ParamountClassics, dir: Patrice Leconte)
TOP FIVE DOCUMENTARIES OF 2003
1 The Fog Of War (Sony PicturesClassics, dir: Errol Morris) - Best Documentary
2 Capturing The Friedmans(Magnolia, dir: Andrew Jarecki)
3 My Architect (New Yorker Films,dir: Nathaniel Kahn)
4 Winged Migration (Sony PicturesClassics, dirs: Jacques Cluzaud and Michel Debats)
5 Spellbound (THINKFilm, dir:Jeffrey Blitz)
Sean Penn, Mystic River and 21 Grams
Diane Keaton, Something's Gotta Give
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alec Baldwin, The Cooler
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Clarkson, Pieces Of Apriland The Station Agent
BEST ACTING BY AN ENSEMBLE
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE ACTOR
Paul Giamatti, American Splendor
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE ACTRESS
Charlize Theron, Monster
Edward Zwick, The Last Samurai
BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Vadim Perelman, House Of Sand And Fog
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Cold Mountain, Anthony Minghella
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
In America, Jim Sheridan andNaomi and Kirsten Sheridan
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST FILM OR MINI-SERIES MADE FOR CABLE TV
Angels In America
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT - FILM MUSIC COMPOSITION
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT - CINEMATOGRAPHY
BILLY WILDER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN DIRECTING
SPECIAL FILM-MAKING ACHIEVEMENT
Sofia Coppola, for writing, directing and producing Lost In Translation
WILLIAM K EVERSON AWARD FOR FILM HISTORY
Richard LaGravanese and Ted Demme for A Decade Under the Influence
Gale Anne Hurd, Kathleen Kennedy and Christine Vachon
SPECIAL RECOGNITION OF FILMS THAT REFLECT THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Capturing The Friedmans
Dirty Pretty Things
The Magdalene Sisters
SPECIAL MENTION FOR EXCELLENCE IN FILM-MAKING
Bend It Like Beckham
Dirty Pretty Things
Girl With A Pearl Earring
Pieces Of April
The Secret Lives Of Dentists