Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, with an indelibly villainous turn by Javier Bardem, "No Country" is a harshly beautiful, faithful adaptation of the novel by Cormac McCarthy.
The board spread the love around Wednesday, giving Tim Burton the best director honor for his version of the bloody Stephen Sondheim musical "Sweeney Todd."
George Clooney was named best actor for "Michael Clayton," in which he plays a disillusioned "fixer" at an upscale New York law firm, with Julie Christie winning best actress for her portrayal of a woman succumbing to Alzheimer's disease in "Away From Her."
The board's other choices for the top films of the year, in alphabetical order, were: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Atonement," "The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Bucket List," "Into the Wild," "Juno," "The Kite Runner" "Lars and the Real Girl," "Michael Clayton" and "Sweeney Todd."
The National Board of Review is the first group to announce its favorite movie each awards season, but lately it hasn't been a predictor of eventual Oscar success. Formed 98 years ago, the board is composed of film historians, students and educators.
Last year, they chose Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima" while the Academy Award for best picture went to Martin Scorsese's "The Departed." In 2005, they named "Good Night, and Good Luck" as their top film and "Crash" was the surprise winner at the Oscars. "Finding Neverland" was their choice in 2004 while the best-picture Oscar went to "Million Dollar Baby." The National Board and the Academy did align, however, for 1999's "American Beauty."