No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers'
searing take on crime and carnage along the Rio Grande, is
the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures' pick
for the best film of 2007.
Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, with an indelibly villainous
turn by Javier Bardem, No Country is a harshly
beautiful, faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel
about the aftermath of a drug deal gone awry. It also
earned honors for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen in the
adapted-screenplay category and for best ensemble
cast. Roger Deakins, the Coens' longtime cinematographer,
will receive a career achievement award from the
No Country for Old Men was the top choice
''because of the direction of the Coen brothers. I think it
is one of the purest adaptations of a book, Cormac
McCarthy's book,'' board president Annie Schulhof said
Wednesday. ''The ensemble performances were absolutely
extraordinary and it really talks about what happens when
evil overrides good.''
The group spread
the love around, giving Tim Burton the best-director
award for his screen version of the bloody Stephen Sondheim
musical Sweeney Todd.
was named best actor for Michael Clayton, in
which he plays a disillusioned ''fixer'' at an upscale
New York law firm, with Julie Christie named best actress
for her portrayal of a woman succumbing to Alzheimer's
disease in Away From Her.
supporting-acting categories, Casey Affleck won for his role
as the shifty shooter in The Assassination of Jesse
James by the Coward Robert Ford. Meanwhile,
Affleck's costar in Gone Baby Gone, Amy Ryan, won for
playing a drug-addicted mother whose little girl is
Gone Baby Gone director Ben Affleck was honored
for his filmmaking debut, and two young actors were singled
out for giving breakthrough performances: Emile Hirsch
as a doomed cross-country traveler in Into the
Wild and Ellen Page as a quick-witted pregnant
teen in Juno.
Diablo Cody, the
stripper-turned-screenwriter who wrote Juno, tied in
the original screenplay category with Nancy Oliver for
Lars and the Real Girl.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was the
group's choice for best foreign-language film, with
Ratatouille winning in the animation category.
Body of War was named best documentary.
The board's other
choices for the top films of the year, in alphabetical
order: The Assassination of Jesse James by the
Coward Robert Ford, Atonement, The Bourne Ultimatum, The
Bucket List, Into the Wild, Juno, The Kite Runner,
Lars and the Real Girl, Michael Clayton, Sweeney Todd.
Board of Review is the first group to announce its favorite
movie each awards season, but lately it hasn't been a
predictor of eventual Oscar success. Last year, they
chose Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima while
the Academy Award for best picture went to Martin
Scorsese's The Departed. In 2005, they named
Good Night, and Good Luck as their top film
and Crash was the surprise winner at the
Oscars. Finding Neverland was their choice in
2004 while the best-picture Oscar went to Million
Dollar Baby. The National Board and the
Academy did align, however, for 1999's American Beauty.
Formed 98 years
ago, the board is composed of film historians, students,
and educators. (AP)