Oscar Season Opens: The Social Network Is the First Winner

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The cast of 'The Social Network'

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If you’re looking for early signs of who might be in the running to win a coveted gold statue next year, you could do worse than looking at the National Board of Review’s awards.

The respected group (founded just over 100 years ago) knows their stuff, as proven by the fact that its best films for 2007 and 2008 — No Country for Old Men and Slumdog Millionaire — went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars (the less said about last year’s choice, Up In The Air, the better.) And David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin will be hoping to replicate those recent successes after the NBR bestowed no less than four awards on The Social Network, including best film, director, adapted screenplay and actor for Jesse Eisenberg, who portrays the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

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NBR President Annie Schulhof was positively ebullient in her praise and believes the movie will “stand up over time and appeal to many generations.” Other big winners included Ben Affleck’s The Town, which walked away with best ensemble cast (NewsFeed has a sneaking suspicion The Town might even be in the running for Best Picture at the Oscars), Lesley Manville took best actress for Mike Leigh’s British drama Another Year, and Christian Bale was awarded best supporting actor for The Fighter. Toy Story 3 took home best animated feature with documentary going to Waiting for ‘Superman.’

(See a TIME special about schools.)

The main surprise was Tom Hooper’s highly rated The King’s Speech going home empty-handed. This movie about the struggles with stuttering by King George VI (Colin Firth) is expected to contest many of the main Oscars with The Social Network. But the rise of Facebook is thus far proving more compelling than the King of England. Expect many more speeches — and not just made by King’s — as awards season gets into full swing. (via AP)

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