With Oscar season rapidly approaching, moviemakers and movie lovers alike are biting their nails in anticipation of this year’s nominees. And while there may be a little under three months until we officially know who the big winners are, the recently announced recipients of the National Board of Review awards might be an early indication of those talented moviemakers who could be bringing home the prized golden statuette. If so, then this just might be the year of the sleeper movie.

Grabbing the top spot for Best Film is Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, whose star, Dev Patel, was also given the award for Breakthrough Performance by an Actor. In addition to these wins, Slumdog screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, shared the award for Best Adapted Screenplay with Eric Roth, whose work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button may have helped David Fincher nab the award for Best Director.

While Clint Eastwood’s Changeling made the list of the Top Ten Films, it’s the director’s Gran Torino that earned him an award for Best Actor and got screenwriter, Nick Schenk, an award for Best Original Screenplay. The buzz around Anne Hathaway’s performance in Rachel Getting Married just got a little bigger as the actress was given the Best Actress award. And while Gus Van Sant’s Milk was a strong contender, it was Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams who helped earn Doubt the Best Ensemble Cast, with Viola Davis also receiving an award for Breakthrough Performance by an Actress for her work in the movie. The awards for Best Supporting Actor and Actress continued the string of indie wins with Josh Brolin earning an award for his role in Milk and Penelope Cruz winning for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, respectively.

So, with movies like The Wrestler sitting next to The Dark Knight in the list of the Top Ten Films of 2008, one thing is for sure: If the National Board of Review awards are a hint of what’s to be expected at this year’s Academy Awards, then we’re all in for one hell of an Oscar night.