Well, awards season has officially begun -- while film critics nationwide have been trying to cram in screenings of movies before their respective critic's awards nominations close (BFCA members, for example, have to file their nominations before Midnight Friday), one group has already made it's choices. The National Board of Review has named Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima as the best film of the year. Other surprises can be found on the full list of winners, including Martin Scorsese winning Best Director for The Departed, and Forrest Whittaker winning Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland; at the same time, The National Board of Review is easily one of the most mysterious of all critic's groups who hand out gongs at the end of the year -- as David Poland concisely points out at his blog, The Hot Button, the New York-based NBR isn't exactly the most accurate Oscar predictor. Add in the fact that the NBR is notoriously troubled by accusations of corruption and incompetence, and Iwo Jima's win may seem more like a blessing than a curse for Warner Bros, who moved Iwo Jima up to be released and eligible for awards consideration in 2006 after the critical and box-office disappointment of Flags of Our Fathers, Eastwood's first World War II epic of the year. ...

Does hearing about this award spark your cuiosity about Letters from Iwo Jima? Or leave you wondering more about who the heck the National Board of Review actually are?