I realize that yesterday’s National Board of Review awards were damaged goods from the get-go, given the org’s idiosyncratic oddball rep and all. But the Letters From Iwo Jima Best Picture win was nonetheless a good thing, if for no other reason that the startle factor. That aside, I had four significant beefs with the hand-outs.
(a) The Best Supporting Actor trophy going to Blood Diamond‘s Djimon Hounsou felt like an especially deranged call. Honsou’s acting in that film is emotionally excessive — he has two emotional-outburst moments are flat-out idiotic. The worst is a scene in which he and Leo are hiding in the dark from a platoon of bad-ass hip-hop rebels — very dangerous, hair-trigger cats armed with automatic weapons — when the crouching Honsou suddenly sees his kidnapped, long-lost son among them. Naturally, this being an Ed Zwick film, he immediately jumps up and shouts out, “Son!” He should have died right there and then. All stupid people (i.e., those without the sense to hold themselves in check when their lives are in danger) deserve a bullet in the head.
(b) The Best Supporting Actress award going to For Your Consideration‘s Catherine O’Hara means that NBR voters thought she was more deserving than Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal, Babel); Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls); Ivana Baquero (Pan’s Labyrinth); Adriana Barraza (Babel); Carmen Maura (Volver), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) or Babel‘s Rinko Kinkuchi. That’s just absurd.
(c) The NBR’s Best Original Screenplay went to Stranger Than Fiction‘s Zach Helm because they wanted to honor Helm’s inability (refusal?) to define the metaphysical system in that film? At no time do you clearly understand whether Will Ferrell’s tax man is some kind of organic but basically “fictional” guy living inside novelist Emma Thompson’s head, or, if he’s as “real” as you or me or Dustin Hoffman‘s character, how it is that Thompson’s decision to kill him off in her book is going to affect him. Helm’s screenplay is infuriating.
(d) The NBR omitting Florian von Henckel Donnersmarck‘s The Lives of Others from its top five foreign-film list is just nutso…a joke. The ones they went with are Volver, (the favorite), Curse Of The Golden Flower, Days Of Glory, Pan’s Labyrinth and Water.