The National Board of Review has kicked off the official Up In The Air bandwagon by giving Jason Reitman‘s film four major awards — Best Picture, Best Actor (actually a tie vote between UITA‘s George Clooney and Invictus‘s Morgan Freeman), Best Supporting Actress (Anna Kendrick) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Reitman, Sheldon Turner).

I told someone at last night’s Lovely Bones party that I had a feeling that the NBR would give Precious its Best Picture award. Not a strong feeling, but a gnawing one. Not that it matters either way. Remember when the announcement of NBR awards used to create a brief electric surge? Back in the ’90s and before that, I mean? Congrats to the Up In The Air team — well deserved — and the other winners, but what matters in early December are the film critic awards.

Clint Eastwood was named best director for Invictus and given the NBR Freedom of Expression award. Eastwood’s director award means Invictus almost won the Best Picture trophy and that the two Eastwood bestowings were basically a consolation — a gimme.

Carey Mulligan was named Best Actress for her performance in An Education, and Woody Harrelson — Woody Harrelson? — was named Best Supporting Actor for his work in The Messenger.

Other NBR awards went to The Prophet for Best Foreign Film, The Cove for Best Documentary, Up for Best Animated Feature, It’s Complicated for Best Ensemble Cast, The Hurt Locker‘s Jeremy Renner for Breakthrough Performance by an Actor, and Precious‘s Gabby Sidibe for Breakthrough Performance by an Actress.

A Serious Man‘s Joel and Ethan Coen won for Best Original Screenplay. Fantastic Mr. Fox director Wes Anderson was handed a Special Filmmaking Achievement Award. The other two NBR Freedom of Expression honorees are Burma Vj: Reporting From A Closed Country and The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellseberg And The Pentagon Papers.

I was talking to a Manhattan journalist just after Tuesday night’s all-media screening of Up In The Air at the Lincoln Square. He said he had found Reitman’s film unsatisfying because it doesn’t specifically explain what career-related or life-changing path George Clooney’s character will be taking at the end. He then said, “So do you think Up In The Air will be nominated” — nominated, mind — “for Best Picture Oscar?” I looked at him cockeyed and went, “What?”