Preliminary 2011 Oscar Contenders: Part Two

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Release Date: February 19, 2010 (Limited)
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Directed By: Roman Polanski

Quick Thoughts: Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer was rushed into theaters to make use of the word-of-mouth around the director’s legal woes, but did Summit jump the gun in releasing what would have been a surefire Oscar contender had it been released later in the year? The film holds an 81% rating at RottenTomatoes and has the director’s stamp all over it, but I don’t see critical love carrying this one for Summit the way they were able to with The Hurt Locker. Good thing for Summit they are in the Twilight business and not in the Oscar-winning business or they would probably care.

Release Date: March 19, 2010
Distributor: Focus Features
Directed By: Noah Baumbach

Quick Thoughts: I don’t see a particularly golden future for Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, but there could be room in the original screenplay category for the film written by Baumbach with help on the story from Jennifer Jason Leigh who also has a small role in the film. Ben Stiller does show signs of a range with a performance outside of his typical comedic stylings, but I would say the standout performance comes from Greta Gerwig, but she is going to have to hold on to a potential nomination as this film is hitting theaters very early in the year.

Release Date: Release date not yet set
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

Quick Thoughts: It’s Clint Eastwood directing Matt Damon, of course Hereafter is a potential Oscar contender and with a script from two-time Oscar nominee Peter Morgan (The Queen and Frost/Nixon) there are several categories to consider.

Release Date: December 17, 2010
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Directed By: James L. Brooks
Quick Thoughts: It’s been six years since James L. Brooks directed a feature film and 13 years since he directed an Oscar winner (As Good as It Gets), but there’s no doubt Oscar watchers will have their eyes on How Do You Know?, a love triangle story starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson with a December 17 release. Rumors have Jack Nicholson starring, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet to my knowledge.
Release Date: July 16, 2010
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

Quick Thoughts: Christopher Nolan’s Inception is one of the most anticipated films for both Oscar prognosticators and blockbuster film fans alike. This time he has brought together a massive cast for a film not many know what to expect entirely. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe and Tom Hardy and is sure to cause instant intrigue. Also, wouldn’t it only be logical for Wally Pfister to again earn a nomination for cinematography after being nominated for Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight? Perhaps this time he’ll take home the win. Then you have Zimmer for score and Lee Smith for editing.

Release Date: May 7, 2010
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Directed By: Jon Favreau

Quick Thoughts: The perceived snubbing of The Dark Knight, the move to ten Oscar nominees and the nomination of District 9 for Best Picture means Oscar’s Best Picture has opened its doors to the blockbuster favorites fans demand be recognized and also means Iron Man 2 shouldn’t be ignored. On top of that, who’s to say Robert Downey Jr. won’t get a nomination? There was a lot of talk about his performance in the first film, will the second time seal the deal or will it simply be a performance that was ignored the first time and will be again?

Release Date: Release date not yet set
Distributor: Focus Features
Directed By: Cary Fukunaga
Quick Thoughts: All signs say Focus Features won’t be releasing Jane Eyre until 2011 but after the attention Cary Fukunaga received for the tragic Sin Nombre and the cast he’s lining up for the new feature adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s novel means I’ll be keeping it on the list until it’s confirmed for a 2011 release. The film will star Alice in Wonderland‘s Mia Wasikowska in the title role and she’ll be supported by a fleet of names including Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins and Imogen Poots.
Release Date: July 7, 2010
Distributor: Focus Features
Directed By: Lisa Cholodenko

Quick Thoughts: Word on Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids are All Right out of Sundance was impressive and Focus Features jumped all over it and now has it set for a July 7 release. Is it too early for a film that will likely get buried under the pile of summer blockbusters? Probably, but like Sony Classics, Focus is up-and-down when it comes to properly positioning their Oscar contenders. This one stars Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Mark Ruffalo and Josh Hutcherson. It’s been compared to 2007 Best Picture nominee Little Miss Sunshine, but I can’t help but wonder how the homosexual theme will play with the Academy. Milk showed signs the Academy is no longer as scared of gays as they were in 2006 when Brokeback Mountain lost to Crash, but the early year release and other factors may have this one climbing a major uphill battle.

Release Date: Release date not yet set
Distributor: The Weinstein Co.
Directed By: Tom Hooper
Quick Thoughts: Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech has Oscar written all over it. Chronicling the story of King George VI’s effort to overcome his nervous stammer with the assistance of speech therapist Lionel Logue the film has the Weinstein Co. in its corner as well as a major 2010 Best Actor contender in Colin Firth playing the lead role of George VI. Firth made a big push for Best Actor last year with his excellent performance in A Single Man and in The King’s Speech he is surrounded with a supporting cast that should only make him look better such as Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, Jennifer Ehle and Derek Jacobi. Beyond being a Best Picture, Director and acting contender, this one is also looking at art direction, costumes and makeup as categories it’s likely to be in contention.
Release Date: Release date not yet set
Distributor: Lionsgate
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Quick Thoughts: Like most everything from Steven Soderbergh we will treat Knockout like a potential Oscar contender until the film proves otherwise. While Soderbergh has cast MMA Fighter Gina Carano in the lead role he has surrounded her by some great names including Ewan McGregor, Dennis Quaid, Michael Douglas and Michael Fassbender meaning we could have a great film, a surprise performance and some supporting roles that could generate some award attention.

~ MORE CONTENDERS ~

PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR
COMPLETE LIST (coming tomorrow)

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