The National Board of Review, which launches the movie awards season each year, named Fox Searchlight's Slumdog Millionaire best film of the year Thursday. The Danny Boyle film, about a poor boy, played by newcomer Dev Patel, who emerges from the slums of Mumbai to become wealthy, thanks to India's version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire , is regarded as a top contender in the Oscar derby. Patel also won for best breakthrough performance by an actor. Boyle, however, was passed over for the best director award, which went to David Fincher for his The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Clint Eastwood took the best actor award for his performance in Gran Torino , and Anne Hathaway, the best actress award for Rachel Getting Married. The National Board of Review is composed of film historians, students and academics. Its awards will be presented in New York on January 14.