Most people consider the National Board of Review irrelevant, and yet they continue to write about the organization's annual film honors. Like the Oscars, though, it doesn't matter if the NBR is irrelevant or not. It's been around for nearly a century now, and it's been a significant part of awards season for many decades. Maybe the organization is made up of paid-entry film buffs rather than critics or "experts" but at the end of the day its members are simply movie lovers like you and me. And sometimes those members even champion and endorse movies that deserve that extra notice.

Sure, the 2007 mentions by the NBR seem so exhaustive that I almost can't even think of a movie that didn't get an award. Also, many of them seem like obvious and predictable decisions (doesn't this just mean the movies were noteworthy enough to receive the awards anyway?). Some of the winners, though, are pretty satisfying. Tim Burton probably won't win an Oscar for best director, so it's good to see him honored here. Also, I wouldn't have expected Lars and the Real Girl to get an original screenplay mention from anywhere. Nor did I expect for The Bucket List to land on any top ten lists. Mostly, I'm delighted to see Casey Affleck recognized for his acting.

Check out all the awards after the jump.

This year, the National Board of Review has honored two little-seen Casey Affleck movies, both of which could use an extra push. The first is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, for which Affleck himself was named best supporting actor. The other is Gone Baby Gone, which stars Affleck in the lead role; his co-star Amy Ryan was named best supporting actress. The major acting awards went to George Clooney for Michael Clayton and Julie Christie for Away From Her. Other honors went to Ratatouille for best animated feature, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for best foreign film, Body of War for best documentary, Tim Burton for best director for Sweeney Todd, Emile Hirsch for best breakthrough actor for Into the Wild, Ellen Page for best breakthrough actress for Juno and Casey's brother Ben for best directorial debut (Gone Baby Gone). Two screenplays tied for best original screenplay: Diablo Cody's Juno and Nancy Oliver's Lars and the Real Girl. Special honors went to Michael Douglas, Turner Classic Movies' Robert Osborne, Persepolis, The Great Debaters and cinematographer Roger Deakins.

The NBR named No Country for Old Men as best picture, as well as for best adapted screenplay and best ensemble cast. The other nine films listed by the organization as the ten best of 2007 include Sweeney Todd, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Atonement, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bucket List, Into the Wild, Juno, The Kite Runner, Michael Clayton and Lars and the Real Girl.

The NBR also lists the top ten independent films of the year, which this year includes Away from Her, Great World of Sound, Honeydripper, In the Valley of Elah, A Mighty Heart, Starting Out in the Evening, Waitress, The Savages, Once and The Namesake. In addition to Diving Bell, the NBR's top foreign films were 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, The Band's Visit, Lust, Caution, The Counterfeiters and La Vie en Rose. Finally, in addition to Body of War, the five best docs were Darfur Now, In the Shadow of the Moon, Nanking, Toots and Taxi to the Darkside.
CATEGORIES Awards, Cinematical