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The Hobbit Won't Hunt? What We Learned From the National Board of Review Awards

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Warner Bros

Argo? Check. Les Misérables? Check. Lincoln? Check. Zero Dark Thirty? Triple check.

If the key to the National Board of Review Awards is to simply show up in them, then the above Oscar hopefuls passed—and The Hobbit failed.

A look at where awards season stands after Wednesday's latest heat:

Why Les Mis fans shouldn't panic

1. Zero Dark Thirty Is in Lincoln's Rearview Mirror: With the NBR Awards, Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden thriller has scored its second PR coup of the week, after its triumph at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. On Wednesday, it won best picture, best director and best actress (for Jessica Chastain). The momentum has translated to Zero Dark Thirty moving ahead of Silver Linings Playbook and gaining on Lincoln among likely Best Picture Oscar nominees, per leading oddsmakers.

2. Les Mis Is Where It Needs to Be: The consensus pick (still) to win Best Picture earned a spot on the NBR's top 10 films of the year list, and while that's not a win, it's enough.

3. The Hobbit Is Not: Here's what the casual observer learned about Peter Jackson's epic in the last couple of days: It makes people hurl, and it didn't make the NBR top 10. Since 2000, only two Best Picture winners have received that ultimate Hollywood prize after being snubbed by the National Board's critics. One was A Beautiful Mind; the other was Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. (So maybe all is not lost for Jackson after all…) 

Early reviews mixed for The Hobbit

4. Daniel Day-Lewis Is Fine, i.e., He's Not Going to Get Beat by Bradley Cooper: Technically, we know he just did get beat at the NBR Awards by Cooper. But did you know the NBR has never voted Day-Lewis a Best Actor trophy? (Once, 27 years ago, it threw him a Best Supporting Actor bone.) But good for Cooper anyway; he can use the boost in trying to snag one of the nomination berths not already presumably going to Denzel Washington, Joaquin Phoenix, John Hawkes (suddenly looking like less than a sure thing after The Sessions fired blanks) and, yes, Day-Lewis.

5. Leonardo DiCaprio Actually Is Eligible to Win Awards: Since he never wins, it only seems like he's not eligible. But he won best supporting actor from the NBR, and the buzz on Django Unchained is strong. Collider.com has a great rundown of tweets from the first screening, including a DiCaprio rave from Looper writer/director Rian Johnson.

6. Speaking of Looper, You Totally Have to Rent It Now: Oscar voters like sci-fi movies slightly more than comic-book movies, but only slightly. So no, Bruce Willis' and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's time-travel flick isn't going to be much of a factor at the Academy Awards. But come on, it won a real live NBR award (for Johnson's original screenplay) and earned a spot on the group's Top 10 list. (Take that, Anna Karenina!) It's time to catch up on a fall sleeper: Looper is out on DVD and on-demand streaming on Dec. 31.

Here's a look at the top winners of the 2012 National Board of Review Awards:

Movie: Zero Dark Thirty

Actor: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Actress: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, Compliance

Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained

Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty

Original Screenplay: Looper

Adapted Screenplay: Silver Linings Playbook

Animated Film: Wreck-It Ralph

Foreign-Language Film: Amour

Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man

Directorial Debut: Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Ensemble: Les Misérables

Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Ben Affleck, Argo

Spotlight Award: John Goodman, Argo, Flight, Paranorman, Trouble With the Curve

Top 10 Films (in alphabetical order): Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Lincoln, Looper, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Promised Land, Silver Linings Playbook

Top 10 Indie Films (in alphabetical order): Arbitrage, Bernie, Compliance, End of Watch, Hello I Must Be Going, Little Birds, Moonrise Kingdom, On the Road, Quartet, Sleepwalk With Me

What will be the next big Oscar contender?

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Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Oscars