THE NATIONAL BOARD of Review has picked "Slumdog Millionaire" as the year's best film.

It's also the only film this year that Daily News movie critic Gary Thompson has given an "A" (Tattle's Pilates trainer called it "amazing") and since Gary's already seen many of the year-end films, it might remain the only "A."

Thompson, who coined the phrase "Summer of Crap" a few years back to describe a particularly bad batch of brainless "blockbusters," may soon anoint 2008 as "The Year of Crap."

(Two exceptions include the upcoming "Frost/Nixon" and "Doubt.")

The board also chose Clint Eastwood as best actor for his performance in the not-yet-released "Gran Torino," Anne Hathaway as best actress for "Rachel Getting Married" and David Fincher as best director for the upcoming "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

* In other Oscar precursor news, David Germain of the Associated Press reports that over the summer, the consensus in Hollywood was that a posthumous nomination for Heath Ledger was "The Dark Knight's" best Academy Awards hope.

But now that critics have gotten a peek at all the last-minute Oscar contenders, "Knight" has emerged as a solid contender for best picture and best director for Christopher Nolan.

Web sites such as and rank Nolan and Ledger among key Oscar contenders and list "The Dark Knight" alongside best-picture possibilities such as "Frost/Nixon," "Milk" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

More dopey Hollywood remakes

It's as if a day doesn't go by without some studio announcing another pointless attempt to reimagine a movie that was perfectly fine the first time.

You know, it's not like the originals have been lost. On the Internet, TCM and DVD, they're all available 24/7.

But that's not stopping Warner Bros. from developing a new version of "Arthur."

The Hollywood Reporter says that the 1981 Dudley Moore comedy is being considered as a starring vehicle for Russell Brand ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Bedtime Stories").

* Also on Hollywood's to re-do list is "Romancing the Stone," the hit 1984 adventure-comedy-romance starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Daniel McDermott ("Eagle Eye") has been chosen for the rewrite.

Entertainment downturn woes

Sumner Redstone is in debt up to his elderly eyeballs, so there's not enough cash in the coffers to stave off a decline in his empire's revenues.

Viacom, which owns MTV Networks, BET Networks and Paramount Pictures, therefore plans to slash about 850 jobs - 7 percent of its work force - and freeze some senior-level salaries.

Viacom said the cuts are a response to the global economic downturn, but it maintained it has a "strong balance sheet and substantial cash flow."

Bernstein Research analyst Michael Nathanson maintained an "outperform" rating on the stock, noting that the cutback "provides a cushion to Viacom's bottom line" against a potential further ad slowdown.

Maybe Viacom could lend that "cushion" to its laid-off employees sitting at home looking for jobs.

* Over at the peacock network, several correspondents and other staff were laid off at NBC News this week as part of $500 million in planned cuts at General Electric's NBC Universal, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The moves at NBC News brought the division into line with the corporate goal of a 3 percent budget cut, said the source, who requested anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Ah, but she was a she. That narrows it down.

Grammys again have local flavor

Local R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan got five Grammy nominations the other night but she wasn't alone. Members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Recording Academy accounted for 32 nominations, writes concert promoter Randy Alexander, of Randex Communications.

So, you have a rooting interest when the Grammys air in February. Here's Randy's list (folks in parentheses just wish they were from Philadelphia):

Best New Artist: Jazmine Sullivan.

Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: "Baby I Know," by (Linda Jones) with Helen Bruner & Terry Jones; "In Love With Another Man," by Jazmine Sullivan.

Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: "Need U Bad," written by (Salaam Remi) and Jazmine Sullivan.

Best R&B Song: "Bust Your Windows," co-written by Jazmine Sullivan; "Customer," written by Ivan Barias, (Raheem DeVaughn), Carvin Haggins, (K. Oliver) and John Smith.

Best R&B Album: "Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA," by Boyz II Men.

Best Contemporary R&B Album: "Fearless," by Jazmine Sullivan.

Album of the Year: "Year Of The Gentleman," by (Ne-Yo). Jeff Chestek is one of the engineers/mixers.

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical: "Lay It Down," by (Al Green). One of the engineers is John Smeltz.

Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album: "Stand Out," by Tye Tribbett & G.A.

Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: "Ribbon In The Sky," by Boyz II Men.

Best ContemporaryJazz Album: "Lifecycle," by Yellowjackets (Marcus Baylor, Drummer).

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: "So What," Pink.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: "Green Light," by John Legend & (Andre 3000).

Best Album Notes: (Miles Davis') "Kind Of Blue: 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition," Francis Davis, album-notes writer.

Best Pop Instrumental Performance: "Fortune Teller," by (Fourplay), Nathan East, group member. Track from: "Energy;" "Steppin' Out," by Stanley Jordan. Track from: "State Of Nature."

Best Male Country Vocal Performance: "Just Got Started Lovin' You," by James Otto (Jim Femino, songwriter).

Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: "Stay With Me (By The Sea)," by (Al Green) featuring John Legend.

Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: "You've Got The Love I Need," by (Al Green) featuring (Anthony Hamilton), co-produced by James Poyser and Ahmir Thompson.

Best R&B Album: "Lay It Down," by (Al Green), co-produced by James Poyser and Ahmir Thompson, songwriter and bassist, Adam Blackstone, guitarist Randy Bowland, background vocals, Jaguar Wright, engineer, Jon Smeltz, executive producer, Rich Nichols.

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical: "Lay It Down," by (Al Green), co-produced by James Poyser and Ahmir Thompson, songwriter and bassist, Adam Blackstone, guitarist Randy Bowland, background vocals, Jaguar Wright, engineer, Jon Smeltz, executive producer, Rich Nichols.

Best Dance Recording: "Disturbia," by (Rihanna), co-written by Robert Allen.

Best Classical Crossover Album: "The Othello Syndrome," (Uri Caine Ensemble), lead singer Bunny Sigler.

Best of luck to all. *

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

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