Gary Susman
December 05, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

The National Board of Review is the New Hampshire primary of film awards. Its choices may or may not be representative of what other voters will pick, but because it’s first, it gets to set the agenda. This year, in a list announced Wednesday, the Board has picked ”The Hours,” with its interwoven trio of parallel stories of women played by Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep, as the best picture of 2002. Let the Oscar handicapping begin.

”Hours,” based on Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning 1998 novel that was in turn inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel ”Mrs. Dalloway,” and which stars Kidman as Woolf, topped the Board’s list of the year’s 10 best movies. ”Hours” costar Moore was honored as Best Actress for her role as a 1950s housewife in ”Far From Heaven,” while Best Actor went to Campbell Scott for his womanizing mentor in the indie ”Roger Dodger.”

Last year, the Board’s choices helped put Halle Berry’s little-seen ”Monster’s Ball” performance on the map, leading ultimately to her historic Oscar win. While ”Hours” and Moore had already been pegged as likely Oscar nominees, the Board’s list now makes the previously unheralded Scott a contender. Conversely, the absence of such would-be front-runners as ”Road to Perdition,” Jack Nicholson (”About Schmidt”), Michael Caine (”The Quiet American”), and Diane Lane (”Unfaithful”) could now hurt their chances.

The Board, which began as a film censorship organization nearly a century ago but exists now largely to produce this annual awards list, consists of teachers, scholars, and industry insiders. It’ll present its awards on Jan. 14 in New York. The major winners are listed below:

The Top Ten Films of 2002
1. ”The Hours” Best Film
2. ”Chicago”
3. ”Gangs of New York”
4. ”The Quiet American”
5. ”Adaptation”
6. ”Rabbit-Proof Fence”
7. ”The Pianist”
8. ”Far From Heaven”
9. ”Thirteen Conversations About One Thing”
10. ”Frida”

The Top Five Foreign Films of 2002
1. ”Talk to Her”
2. ”Y Tu Mama Tambien”
3. ”8 Women”
4. ”City of God”
5. ”El Crimen del Padre Amaro”

Best Actor
Campbell Scott, ”Roger Dodger”

Best Actress
Julianne Moore, ”Far From Heaven”

Best Supporting Actor
Chris Cooper, ”Adaptation”

Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates, ”About Schmidt”

Best Acting by an Ensemble
”Nicholas Nickleby”

Breakthrough Performance Actor
Derek Luke, ”Antwone Fisher”

Breakthrough Performance Actress
Maggie Gyllenhaal, ”Secretary”

Best Director
Phillip Noyce, ”The Quiet American” and ”Rabbit-Proof Fence”

Best Directorial Debut
Rob Marshall, ”Chicago”

Screenwriter of the Year
Charlie Kaufman, ”Adaptation,” ”Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” ”Human Nature”

Best Documentary
”Bowling for Columbine”

Best Animated Feature
Hayao Miyazaki’s ”Spirited Away”

Special Award for Visionary Cinematic Achievement
George Lucas

Special Filmmaking Achievement
George Clooney, director, producer and star of ”Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”

Special Mention for Excellence in Filmmaking
”Frailty”
”The Good Girl”
”The Guys”
”Heaven”
”Igby Goes Down”
”Max”
”Personal Velocity”
”Real Women Have Curves”
”Roger Dodger”
”Sunshine State”
”Tadpole”
”Tully”

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