by Ken Korman
The almost three-month process of handing out accolades for the best of the year in film began this week with full slates of awards announced by the New York Film Critics Circle and the 112-year-old National Board of Review. Both bodies gave Best Picture and Best Director awards to Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The film opens in New Orleans on January 11.
The National Board of Review also acknowledged New Orleans' own Beasts of the Southern Wild, made by local director Benh Zeitlin and his Court 13 film collective, with two awards: Zeitlin won Best Directorial Debut, and his now nine-year-old star Quvenzhane Wallis earned the year's Breakthrough Actress award. Perhaps most significant as regards the film's chances for major tributes down the road, Beasts of the Southern Wild made the Board's nine-title list of the year's Top Movies.
Oscar nominations will be announced on January 15, and the Oscar telecast is scheduled for the night of Sunday, February 24.