nbr.jpgBad buzz has been swirling around the National Board of Review for a week or more. The organization (which is a kind of secret society made up primarily of academics and historians, as well as some "regular" moviegoers) known for traditionally releasing the first prizes of awards season, allegedly left many major names (including the directors of Walk the Line and Pride and Prejudice) off this year's ballot. Despite all evidence that the oversights could have been chalked up to human error, Fox News' Roger Friedman insisted that there was a conspiracy afoot: "This Skull and Bones-type group ... has at their discretion the chance to give out all kinds of prizes and gifts to those who've been nice to them during the year," he griped. In response to Friedman's and other loudly-whispered criticism, the Board released a statement last night admitting that they've retracted their original ballots in order to issue a more-comprehensive version – thus compromising their first-out-of-the-gate status.

The email Cinematical received in part read: "In consideration of the incomplete nature of the 2005 eligibility list and with apologies, NBR screening committee members have been asked to disregard the previously sent eligibility list and to review the complete list of screened films ... We are sorry for the inadvertent omissions." They'll now announce their selections – which are almost always milquetoast and semi-satisfying – on December 12.