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  • 12/11/2006

Eastwood and Scorsese set for Oscar rematch

Staff and agencies

Thursday December 7, 2006

Guardian Unlimited


he 79th Academy Awards could shape up to be avirtual repeat of the 77th edition, again pittingClint Eastwood against Martin Scorsese in the racefor the chief honors. The directors were the mainwinners at last night's National Board of Reviewceremony, the first event on the awards calendar.

Eastwood's filmLetters From Iwo Jima, the companionpiece to Flags Of Our Fathers, was named best pictureof 2006. Martin Scorsese took the best director awardfor his work on TheDeparted.

The news anoints both men as early favorites for Oscar glory next February. Two years ago Eastwood'sMillion Dollar Babysurprisingly beat Scorsese's TheAviator to win the best film and director awards.

The National Board of Review namedHelen Mirren as best actress for her title role in The Queen.Forest Whitaker won best actor for his performance as the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. The supporting actor and actress awards went, respectively, toDjimon Hounsou for Blood Diamond andCatherine O'Hara for the Hollywood satire For Your Consideration.Pedro Almodóvar's Volver was named best foreign-language film.

Letters From Iwo Jima

is the second part of Eastwood's second world war epic. In contrast to Flags of Our Fathers, it depicts the struggle from the Japanese perspective and features a predominantly Japanese cast. "This is his masterpiece," said National Board Review president Annie Schulhof. "I was blown away by its delicacy, the poignancy of how he talks about war. I think it is also a searing condemnation of war."

Letters From Iwo Jima is due to open in the US on December 20 and the UK on February 23. The Departed, a gangster thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson, is already a proven box office hit, amassing$116.7m in the US alone.

The National Board of Review is traditionally seen as the earliest Oscar pointer. But its track record is hardly infallible. The last time it accurately predicted the winner of the best film Oscar was in 1999, when it gave the top honor to American Beauty. Last year's NBR winner, Good Night and Good Luck, went on to be nominated for the best film Oscar but lost out on the night to the Paul Haggis drama, Crash.

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