The 2002 National Board of Review Awards were announced Dec. 4. The film of Kander and Ebb's "Chicago," which hits U.S. screens Dec. 27, was named one of the year's top ten films.
Stephen Daldry's "The Hours" — starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore — was chosen as the year's best film; runners-up included the aforementioned "Chicago" plus "Gangs of New York," "The Quiet American," "Adaptation," "Rabbit-Proof Fence," "The Pianist," "Far From Heaven," "13 Conversations About One Thing" and "Frida."
"Chicago" also nabbed the award for Best Directorial Debut for director/choreographer Rob Marshall. Marshall was the choreographer of Broadway's Kiss of the Spider Woman and the revivals of Damn Yankees, She Loves Me, Cabaret and Little Me.
The National Board of Review was created in 1909 as a censorship group; composed of approximately 150 members, its constituents come from a variety of professions: doctors, lawyers, educators, historians as well as a few who were formerly in the film industry. The Board, Variety reports, "provides a fairly reliable forecast of Oscar results. It has chosen 41% of the Academy's best picture choices since 1980."
Other 2002 winners include "Talk To Her" (Best Foreign Film), Phillip Noyce (Best Director for "The Quiet American" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence"), Campbell Scott (Best Actor for "Roger Dodger"), Julianne Moore (Best Actress for "Far From Heaven"), Chris Cooper (Best Supporting Actor for "Adaptation"), Kathy Bates (Best Supporting Actress for "About Schmidt"), Derek Luke (Best Breakthrough Performance Male for "Antwone Fisher"), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Best Breakthrough Performance Female for "Secretary"), "Nicholas Nickleby" (Best Ensemble Performance), Charlie Kaufman (Screenwriter of the Year for "Adaptation," "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" and "Human Nature"), "Miyazak's Spirited Away" (Best Animated Feature), "Bowling for Columbine" (Best Documentary) and "The Laramie Project" (Best Film Made for Cable Television). George Lucas will receive a special award for Visionary Cinematic Achievement, and other career achievement awards will be bestowed upon Christopher Plummer, Elmer Bernstein and Conrad L. Hall. For his work as director, producer and star of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," George Clooney will receive an award for Special Filmmaking Achievement.
—By Andrew Gans