Our ongoing Pop Culture Doomsday stroked the infant cheek of awards season this morning when the hooded, cloaked cultists at National Board of Review anointed Slumdog Millionaire as their Best Picture pick for 2008. It's just the latest setback today for Paramount, which, with one notable exception, will chase the bitter aftertaste of rolling layoffs with an ice-cold glass of Button-Snub Ultra.
David Fincher won his first directing award of the season for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but the film failed to turn up hardware for Brad Pitt or Cate Blanchett. Instead, Clint Eastwood won Best Actor for his racist-grump musical swan song Gran Torino, and the Supporting Actress Award went to Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Anne Hathaway's turn in Rachel Getting Married earned Best Actress honors; and in a bit of a surprise, Josh Brolin's undercooked role as Harvey Milk assassin Dan White coaxed a Best Supporting Actor award from the mysterious NBR fraternity. (Slumdog lead Dev Patel, whom Fox Searchlight is pushing for a supporting slot at the Oscars, was recognized as the year's "Breakthrough Actor.")
The org's Top 11 of '08, meanwhile, comprise a typically tame late-year consensus: In addition to Slumdog, Button, Milk and Gran Torino, the NBR selected The Wrestler, WALL-E, Frost/Nixon, Defiance, The Dark Knight, Changeling and, in what we guess is its biggest upset, the Coens' Burn After Reading over the omitted Revolutionary Road, Doubt and/or The Reader. If you're reading this within 25 feet of Scott Rudin, duck.