What the NBR is good for: sussing out how the Best Picture race might take shape. Making a non-prominent contender suddenly prominent, like Josh Brolin in Milk for the WIN. They are good for solidifying an already held belief, like Penelope Cruz is magnificent in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
What the NBR is not good for: Sussing out a Best Picture winner. It is very rare that the NBR aligns with Oscar for the win. When Finding Neverland won it solidified that the film would likely be nominated but there was no way it was winning. That’s not to say that Slumdog isn’t your winner, it’s just to say that you shouldn’t necessarily conclude that because it won the NBR it is winning the Oscar.
No Country for Old Men may have won last year but that film was winning everything anyway. If Slumdog continues to win everything, obviously its chances go up. But remember, it is a brutally long season. In actual time it isn’t but in terms of one award after another, it most definitely is.
It’s also clear from the inclusion of both Changeling and Gran Torino that the NBRs love them some Clint Eastwood. Letters From Iwo Jima won two years ago, Mystic River before that. Howards End beat Unforgiven, however, it should be noted.
Alden Michaels (or LimeyMcFrog) has written some NBR stats to live by, which are interesting. They line up this year’s winners with the stats from the past. He concludes that it looks good for Slumdog and Clint Eastwood for Actor in Gran Torino, but the other winners might not be so lucky.
My feeling on the Best Picture race is that one is better off trusting their own instincts rather than following an early precurser like this. Just a thought. The picture is only just starting to come into focus.
Believe it or not, Globes noms are just around the corner, as are the NYFCC and LAFCA and the BFCA. We’ve only just begun.