National Board loves 'Letters'

Updated 12/6/2006 4:15 PM ET

Warner Bros.
Ken Watanabe stars in Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima.

NEW YORK (AP) — Letters From Iwo Jima, the second of Clint Eastwood's two-part look at World War II, is the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures' pick as the best film of 2006.

Also on the list, announced Wednesday: Flags of Our Fathers, in which Eastwood shows the aftermath of war through the eyes of the military men who raised the American flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Letters, which depicts the war from the Japanese perspective with a mostly Japanese cast, originally was scheduled to hit theaters in February 2007, but Warner Bros. recently bumped up the release date to Dec. 20.

The rest of the group's top 10, in alphabetical order: Babel, Blood Diamond, The Departed, The Devil Wears Prada, The History Boys, Little Miss Sunshine, Notes on a Scandal and The Painted Veil.
The group is the first out of the gate each awards season but their picks aren't necessarily predictors of the eventual Academy Award winners. In 2004 they chose Finding Neverland, while the best-picture Oscar went to Million Dollar Baby. Last year they picked Good Night, and Good Luck ; the surprise Oscar winner was Crash. The National Board and the Academy did line up, however, for 1999's American Beauty.

The National Board of Motion Pictures, formed 97 years ago, is composed of film historians, students and educators.
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