Board makes 'Luck' top pic

NEW YORK — The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures has named George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” the year’s best film. Org unveiled its annual best-of list Monday morning in Gotham.

Clooney’s second directorial effort, a tribute to news broadcaster Edward R. Murrow being distribbed by Warner Independent Pictures, beat out runners-up “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Crash,” “A History of Violence,” “Match Point,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Munich,” “Syriana” and “Walk the Line” to take top honors.

WIP also scored wins for docu of the year (the Morgan Freeman-narrated “March of the Penguins”) and foreign film (Hany Abu-Assad’s “Paradise Now”).

In the director category, Clooney lost out to Ang Lee, whose Western lit adaptation “Brokeback Mountain” (Focus Features) is gaining awards-season steam after being tapped as the year’s best pic by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and Boston Society of Film Critics over the weekend, and the New York Film Critics Circle on Monday.

Philip Seymour Hoffman drew the NBR actor nod for his performance as Truman Capote in Sony Pictures Classics’ “Capote.”

The Weinstein Co. scored a win for its Tribeca Film Festival acquisition “Transamerica” as Felicity Huffman took actress kudos. Huffman plays a transsexual on a cross-country trip with her runaway son.

TWC also notched a win for ensemble cast in Stephen Frears’ Brit pic “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins.

“Brokeback’s” Jake Gyllenhaal and Gong Li (“Memoirs of a Geisha”) drew the NBR’s supporting actor and actress nods, respectively.

Adapted screenplay prize went to Stephen Gaghan for the “Traffic” scribe’s second directorial effort, “Syriana” (Warner Bros.), while Noah Baumbach’s semiautobiographical tale of a fractured family of quirky Brooklyn intellectuals, “The Squid and the Whale,” took original screenplay honors. Pic is in release through Samuel Goldwyn Films.

“Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” (Warner Bros.) beat out claymation whiz Nick Park’s “Wallace & Gromit” feature as the year’s top animated pic.

Universal’s “King Kong” grabbed the award for special effects.

In other NBR special awards, Terrence Howard was named breakthrough actor of the year for his roles in “Crash,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ ” and “Hustle & Flow.”

And 15-year-old Q’Orianka Kilcher drew the breakthrough actress nod for her role as Pocahontas in Terrence Malick’s upcoming “The New World.”

Oscar-winning “Gosford Park” scribe Julian Fellowes was named top first-time helmer by the NBR for his psychological domestic drama “Separate Lies.”

HBO’s “Lackawanna Blues” was named top made-for-cable pic.

NBR will hand out its annual honors Jan. 10 at Tavern on the Green in a ceremony hosted by Paul Reiser.

Jane Fonda and composer Howard Shore will be on hand to receive lifetime achievement honors at the event, and “Violence” helmer David Cronenberg will receive the Billy Wilder Award for excellence in direction.

Other special kudos to be awarded at the NBR gala include the producer of the year award to Saul Zaentz and the William K. Everson Award for Film History to George Feltenstein.

Pics “Innocent Voices” and “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” will receive Freedom of Expression tributes.

NBR also released a list Monday of pics making the cut for its excellence in filmmaking category, including “Breakfast on Pluto,” “Cape of Good Hope,” “The Dying Gaul,” “Everything Is Illuminated,” “Hustle & Flow,” “Junebug,” “Layer Cake,” “Lord of War,” “Nine Lives,” “The Thing About My Folks” and “The Upside of Anger.”

Made up of 150 members, the 96-year-old NBR has no official ties to the film biz, and the group’s annual best-of list is customarily seen as the de facto kickoff to awards season. However, its 2005 picks were delayed when NBR brass realized last week that ballots sent to voters were incomplete (Daily Variety, Dec. 8).

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