Small proved big with the National Board of Review, which named Anne Hathaway 2008’s best actress for her role in the indie movie Rachel Getting Married and the art film Slumdog Millionaire best picture of the year.
Clint Eastwood was cited as top actor for his role as a grouchy widower in the still-to-be released Gran Torino, while The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, was singled out for its direction, by David Fincher.
Slumdog Millionaire, about an Indian man who wins a fortune on a TV show, additionally took awards for breakthrough performance by an actor – Dev Patel – and for screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, who tied with Benjamin Button writer Eric Roth for best adapted screenplay.
Comprised of film historians, experts and buffs, the National Board of Review was founded in 1909. On Thursday, its 125 members helped kick off awards season by naming their selection of the year’s best.
In the supporting actor categories, the board honored John Brolin for his role as the assassin Dan White in Milk, and Penelope Cruz in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Victoria Cristina Barcelona. Best animated feature was Wall-E.
– Stephen M. Silverman