Can you feel it in the air? Awards Season officially began with yesterday's announcement of the National Board of Review's 2006 honors, with Best Picture going to Clint Eastwood's World War II epic 'Letters from Iwo Jima' (opening Dec. 20), the companion piece to his other film this fall, 'Flags of Our Fathers.' Eastwood, whose diabolical plot to rule the Academy Awards throughout all of the 21st century is so far an adequate success, employed a fascinating battle strategy: Release two films and it doubles your chances at Oscar glory! (Be on the lookout for Eastwood's 2007 'Three Blind Mice' trilogy).

The Queen Top acting awards both went to royalty, with
Helen Mirren taking Best Actress for her stunning portrayal of Elizabeth II in 'The Queen' and Forest Whitaker pillaging his way to Best Actor as Idi Amin in 'The Last King of Scotland.' If Mirren's victory reveals anything, it's that National Board of Review members do indeed take our pleas on Hold the Fone seriously. As for Whitaker, no surprise there, he's been accumulating praise since 'King's' September debut in Toronto. But have you ever seen how hot his wife is? That's kinda surprising.

The Departed
Best Director deservedly went to
Martin Scorsese for 'The Departed,' a thriller that's blown all of our heads off -- I mean, blown all of us away -- here at Moviefone. What's most intriguing about the Board of Review's picks are that they set in motion what many pundits believe will be an Oscar rematch between Eastwood and Scorsese (after 'Million Dollar Baby' vs. 'The Aviator' in 2005). Will both earn spots come nomination time? Or will Eastwood's war films cancel each other out? Will Scorsese finally take home the gold? And don't his magnificent eyebrows count for anything? Join the debate here.

Get the complete list of National Board of Review Winners

POST: What do you think of the winners?

POST: Who will get nominated for Academy Awards?

National Board of Review, Letters from Iwo Jima, Clint Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Ryan Gosling, Forest Whitaker, Martin Scorsese, The Departed, Movie Awards

categories Features, Cinematical