George Clooney and Casey Affleck took top male honors from the National Board of Review, which prides itself on being the oldest movie organization in the country (it’s 98 years old) and the first to announce its prizes each year.
The Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men was picked as this year’s best picture, and Tim Burton is best director, for the musical Sweeney Todd, his sixth movie to star Johnny Depp. Ratatouille won the animated film award.
Clooney was cited as best actor for Michael Clayton and Affleck for his supporting role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
Affleck’s brother and his director on the film Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck, was recognized for his filmmaking debut, while that movie’s Amy Ryan was also singled out, as supporting actress.
Julie Christie, who won a Best Actress Oscar for 1965’s Darling, the same year she achieved international stardom in Doctor Zhivago, was named best actress, for her role as an Alzheimer’s patient in Away From Her
The non-profit Board of Review, which is made up of film scholars, will present its awards at a Jan. 15 ceremony in New York. Its previous round of winners – Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker and Martin Scorsese – all went on to win Oscars this year.