The 64 members of the National Society of Film Critics from major cities including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Boston have chosen Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker as the Best Picture of 2009 - echoing the critic group choices from Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Boston, amongst others. Bigelow also won Best Director and Jeremy Renner was named Best Actor. Depending on how you read the numbers though, this may not be the best news in the world for the acclaimed thriller.

Going back to 1999, 7 of the last 11 films that they have named as Film of the Year have failed to even get a nomination. For the doomsayers you can then go back a few more years and say 9 of the last 14 haven't been nominated. For the class half-full set, look no further than 1990-95 when 5-of-6 Best Film choices were nominated and also 3 of the past 5 years. However, if a nomination remains little more than a kissing-your-sister runners-up prize, then everyone hoping that The Hurt Locker may be one of the frontrunners might be biting their nails a little bit. Only four times since their existence in 1967 have the group matched their choice with the eventual Oscar winner. Their first came in 1977 with Annie Hall with their most recent in 2004 with Million Dollar Baby. They saw back-to-back victories in 1992-93 with Unforgiven and Schindler's List. The odds are in favor for the film's other victories though. For Bigelow, six of the NSFC's last ten choices for Director went onto nominations and nine of their last ten Actors have done the same. The better news for Mr. Renner is that their last five choices (and six of the last seven) have WON the Oscar. Once considered an underdog for even a nomination, is it possible that George Clooney and Jeff Bridges could have some serious contention now for the gold? Renner being left off the list of five would now be a huge disappointment. A nomination already appears to be a foregone conclusion for Bigelow, whom many Oscar-watchers consider the frontrunner at this juncture. The group's last match for the win was Roman Polanski for The Pianist back in 2002.

The supporting categories continued the Christoph Waltz/Mo'Nique Dearest trend that has been bucked by few critic groups at this point, although they split Waltz's Supporting Actor prize with Paul Schneider, receiving his first major mention of the season for his work as John Keats' snarky writing partner, Charles Armitage Brown, in Bright Star. The NSFC also echoed the Los Angeles Film Critics left field choice for Best Actress with Yolande Moreau for Seraphine. Between their 8-of-11 record and L.A.'s 8-of-10 since 1999 in the category, is it possible she could be this year's Fernanda Montenegro? The Central Station actress was the choice of the two groups in 1998 when nearly every other major group ignored her work?

Wrapping up the NSFC's picks were Summer Hours for Best Foreign Language Film, The Beaches of Agnes for Best Non-Fiction (ahem, Documentary), The White Ribbon for Cinematography and Joel & Ethan Coen received Best Screenplay for A Serious Man. The last Screenplay to not go onto an Oscar nomination after winning from the group was 1996's Mother by Albert Brooks and Monica Johnson.

categories Oscars, Awards, Cinematical