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NBR’s best: ‘Up in the Air’

Top ten includes 'Star Trek,' 'Basterds'

It’s only helmer Jason Reitman’s third pic, but the National Board of Review gave his George Clooney starrer “Up in the Air” multiple awards on Thursday, including best film of the year.

Adapted from Walter Kirn’s novel, Paramount’s recession-centric dramedy also nabbed prizes for Clooney (best actor, which he shares with Morgan Freeman for “Invictus”), thesp Anna Kendrick (supporting actress) and scribes Reitman and Sheldon Turner (adapted screenplay).

Major awards also went to Clint Eastwood, who took the director nod for “Invictus”; to thesp Carey Mulligan for her turn in “An Education”; to Woody Harrelson, for his supporting role in “The Messenger”; and the Coen brothers for their “A Serious Man” original screenplay. Steve Martin-Meryl Streep-Alec Baldwin comedy “It’s Complicated” won the best ensemble prize.

This is Eastwood’s second consecutive NBR award ­ — the multihyphenate took the actor prize last year for “Gran Torino.”

In a strong year for animated pics, the board named “Up” for animated feature kudos — and resurrected a special filmmaking achievement award for Wes Anderson’s stop-motion pic “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

Because of the NBR’s early date on the kudos calendar, the board’s best film selection and top 10 films list are frequently cited in awards campaigns. The board’s top 10 films were “An Education,” “(500) Days of Summer,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Invictus,” “The Messenger,” “A Serious Man,” “Star Trek,” “Up” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Opening Friday, “Up in the Air” follows a human resources exec (Clooney) who flies around the country laying off hapless employees. Produced by Ivan Reitman (Jason’s father) and Tom Pollock’s Montecito Picture Co., pic was the first Montecito film greenlit by Par after the Paramount-DreamWorks split. Montecito had previously had a first-look deal with DreamWorks but opted to stay at Par after the breakup.

NBR prexy Annie Schulhof called “Up in the Air” “bittersweet and poignant, with wonderfully strong performances, writing and direction.”

The org, whose membership is made up of academics, film professionals and students, also names top foreign pics, indies and docus. Indie pics selected this year were “Amreeka,” South African sci-fi hit “District 9,” “Goodbye Solo,” “Humpday,” “In the Loop,” “Julia,” “Me and Orson Welles,” “Moon,” “Sugar” and “Two Lovers.”

The top five foreign films were “The Maid,” “Revanche,” “Song of Sparrows,” “Three Monkeys” and “The White Ribbon.” Top docus included “Crude,” “Food, Inc.” and “Good Hair” plus “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” and “Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country,” both of which share an NBR freedom of expression award with “Invictus.”

Duncan Jones (“Moon”), Oren Moverman (“The Messenger”) and Marc Webb (“(500) Days”) shared the spotlight award for directorial debut.

And the winners are:

Film: “Up in the Air”

Director: Clint Eastwood, “Invictus”

Actor: George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”

Actress: Carey Mulligan, “An Education”

Supporting Actor: Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”

Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”

Foreign Language Film: “A Prophet”

Documentary:“The Cove”

Animated Feature: “Up”

Ensemble Cast: “It’s Complicated”

Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”

Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut: Duncan Jones, “Moon”
Oren Moverman, “The Messenger”
Marc Webb, “(500) Days Of Summer”

Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man

Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: Wes Anderson, the Fantastic Mr. Fox

William K. Everson Film History Award:Jean Picker Firstenberg

NBR Freedom Of Expression: “Burma Vj: Reporting From A Closed Country”
“Invictus”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellseberg and the Pentagon Papers”

Ten Best Films (in alphabetical order)

  • “An Education”
  • “(500) Days Of Summer”
  • “The Hurt Locker”
  • “Inglourious Basterds”
  • “Invictus”
  • “The Messenger”
  • “A Serious Man”
  • “Star Trek”
  • “Up”
  • “Where the Wild Things Are”

Five Best Foreign-Language Films (in alphabetical order)

  • “The Maid”
  • “Revanche”
  • “Song Of Sparrows”
  • “Three Monkeys”
  • “The White Ribbon”

Five Best Documentaries (in alphabetical order)

  • “Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country”
  • “Crude”
  • “Food, Inc.”
  • “Good Hair”
  • “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”

Top Ten Independent Films (in alphabetical order)

  • “Amreeka”
  • “District 9”
  • “Goodbye Solo”
  • “Humpday”
  • “In the Loop”
  • “Julia”
  • “Me and Orson Welles”
  • “Moon”
  • “Sugar”
  • “Two Lovers”