The National Board of Review will announce their 2012 awards winners on Dec. 5.
Last year, they named "Hugo" the Best Picture while its helmer Martin Scorsese won his third Best Director prize from this New York based awards group. George Clooney ("The Descendants") won his third NBR Best Actor award in five years and Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin") won Best Actress.
Christopher Plummer ("The Beginners") claimed Supporting Actor while "The Descendants" also won Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley) and Adapted Screenplay (Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash). Original Screenplay went to Will Reiser for "50/50."
Of those winners, Plummer and the "Descendants" writing team went on to win Academy Awards. Clooney, Scorsese, and Hugo were nominated at the Oscars. Swinton, Woodley, and Reiser did not receive bids.
Several of this year's major acting contenders have received multiple trophies from this group. Robert De Niro ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master"), Anthony Hopkins ("Hitchcock"), and Holly Hunter ("Won't Back Down") have each won two apiece.
The NBR continues to have a spotty record at crystal balling the Oscars. For the 2010 film year, "The Social Network" swept the NBR, winning Best Picture, Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), Best Director (David Fincher) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin). Best Actress went to Lesley Manville ("Another Year") while Christian Bale ("The Fighter") and Jacki Weaver ("Animal Kingdom") took the supporting prizes. Only Sorkin and Bale prevailed at the Oscars.
The prior year, "The King's Speech" was almost completely shut out of the NBR kudos, only meriting mention on the list of runners-up for Best Picture. Eventual Oscar champ David Seidler was bested for Original Screenplay by Chris Sparling ("Buried").
Because the NBR is one of the first awards of the season, their members often don't see late entries into the derby that eventually figure into the Oscar race. Two years ago, they missed out on "Blue Valentine" and "Rabbit Hole" which reaped Oscar bids for leading ladies Michelle Williams and Nicole Kidman respectively. This past year, as with the New York Film Critics Circle, the NBR voters did not see "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" which starred Oscar champs Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and was later nominated as Best Picture at the Oscars.
Three years ago, "Up in the Air" won four awards with the NBR -- Best Picture, Best Actor (George Clooney), Best Supporting Actress (Anna Kendrick) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner) -- but was shut out at the Oscars. Long-time NBR favorite Clint Eastwood won Best Director for "Invictus" and that film's star Morgan Freeman tied for Best Actor with Clooney.
Sometimes the NBR members just don't take to films which end up being Oscar contenders. Two years ago, they snubbed Best Picture nominees "Black Swan" and "The Kids Are All Right." Three years ago, "Precious" did not make the top 10 with the NBR but did contend at the Oscars. In 2003, the NBR chose to honor "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" with only the Ensemble award while it went on to sweep the Oscars, with a record-tying 11 wins including Best Picture. And in 2001, the NBR completely snubbed "A Beautiful Mind" which was the Academy's choice for Best Picture.