Ari Folman‘s Waltz With Bashir is a strikingly original, deeply affecting animated docudrama about war and morality and monsters within — easily one of the year’s finest. But I wonder if maybe…just maybe the National Society of Film Critics decided to give this Sony Classics release its 2008 Best Picture prize in part because of the awful echoes going on right now in Gaza.

God help those who are about to get caught in the crossfire between Hamas and the Israeli military over the next few days and weeks. Bashir is about Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in ’82, and particularly the slaughter of Palestinian civilians by Christian Phalangists at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Think about it — how could the NSFC have not had Gaza on their minds?

The Bashir win also symbolizes the vague disquiet and even unhappiness that many feel about the leading Best Picture Oscar contenders. LAFCA, NYFCC and now the National Society of Film Critics have all said the same thing, i.e., “fuck the popularity contest, fuck crowd-pleasing, fuck everything except what we really and truly admire to the hilt.”

Milk‘s Sean Penn and Happy Go Lucky‘s Sally Hawkins won for Best Actor and Best Actress. And Happy Go Lucky ‘s Eddie Marsan (yay!) won for Best Supporting Actor, and Edge of Heaven‘s Hanny Schygulla won for Best Supporting Actress. HGL’s Mike Leigh won for Best Director and Best Screenplay. That’s four big honors for Happy Go Lucky.

Man on Wire (what else?) was named Best Non-Fiction Film.