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Up in the Air Takes Flight With First Best Picture Win

Up in the Air, George Clooney Paramount Pictures

It's official: Nobody doesn't like George Clooney.

Just when you thought his new dramedy, Up in the Air, couldn't get more—or better—buzz, the National Board of Review has gone and named it the Best Film of the Year, officially launching the film into the Oscar conversation. And that's before the flick has even been released.

The past two NBR winners, No Country for Old Men and Slumdog Millionaire, both went on to take home the top prize at the Academy Awards. (Ever the economical lauders, the NBR doesn't bother with announcing nominees; they simply come out with the winners.)

Clooney may also have a date with Oscar if the Board's bellwether holds up. The movie star's movie star was named Best Actor, sharing the prize with Morgan Freeman. The actor's actor was honored for portraying Nelson Mandela in the Clint Eastwood-directed Invictus (also not yet viewable by Joe Public).

For his troubles, Eastwood was named Best Director, while his film was included in the prestigious roundup of the Top 10 Films of the Year, a distinction shared by a certain long-living, prosperous starship crew.

As for Up in the Air, its sweep only went on from there...

The film, which follows an increasingly isolated corporate heavy who racks up frequent flier miles while crisscrossing the country firing people, also received the Best Supporting Actress award for Anna Kendrick and the Best Adapted Screenplay award for double-duty director Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner.

Best Actress went to fawned-over ingenue (and Shia LaBeouf arm candy) Carey Mulligan, for her role in An Education.

The story of a British schoolgirl whose university aspirations get sidelined by her relationship with an older man also made it, along with Invictus, into NBR's list of the 10 best films of the year. Joining them are (500) Days of Summer, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, The Messenger, A Serious Man, Star Trek, Up and Where the Wild Things Are.

Rounding out the acting categories are Woody Harrelson, who scored the Best Supporting Actor win for his work in The Messenger, and Gabourey Sidibe, a name moviegoers will no doubt become very familiar with as nominations continue to pop up, who won the Breakthrough Performance by an Actress for her titular role in Precious.

Best Ensemble went to It's Complicated, which means Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin all need to clear a space on their shelves.

While the winners were announced today, the awards themselves won't be doled out until the annual gala, to be held on Jan. 12 and hosted by Meredith Vieira. No, really.

Here's the complete list of winners from the 2009 National Board of Review:

Best Film: Up in the Air

Best Actor: George Clooney, Up in the Air; Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, An Education

Best Supporting Actor: Woody Harrelson, The Messenger

Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, Invictus

Best Foreign Language Film: A Prophet

Best Documentary: The Cove

Best Animated Feature: Up

Best Ensemble Cast: It's Complicated

Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut: Duncan Jones, Moon; Oren Moverman, The Messenger; Marc Webb, (500) Days of Summer

Best Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man

Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: Wes Anderson, The Fantastic Mr. Fox

William K. Everson Film History Award: Jean Picker Firstenberg

NBR Freedom of Expression: Burma Vj: Reporting From a Closed Country; Invictus; The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellseberg and the Pentagon Papers

10 Best Films:

• An Education
• (500) Days of Summer
• The Hurt Locker
• Inglourious Basterds
• Invictus
• The Messenger
• A Serious Man
• Star Trek
• Up
• Where the Wild Things Are

________

Up in the Air's the big winner, and we caught up with Clooney and his costars at the film's premiere. Watch the video now.

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