Preliminary 2011 Oscar Contenders: Part Four

Wow, we made it, and to think this is just the early round of Oscar consideration. By the time we hit the November time frame this list of 87 total films will most likely be whittled down to what I assume will be about 30 or so titles of actual contenders. The real question is just how many from this preliminary list will be left standing once we get to that point? 20? 15? Less?

No matter, this is all for fun anyway as well as taking a moment to introduce you to a few films you may not have known were coming out this year. After all, isn’t it better to be “in the know” so you can impress your friends?

In today’s fourth and final installment we have the final 13 individual films to make my preliminary list followed by the ten films I can currently see as Animated Feature Film contenders as well as five films I see as potential Documentary contenders. However, if any of you know of more documentaries or even more animated films I have overlooked please share in the comments below.

I will again remind you all, this is merely a guide to potential nominees, not a guarantee, not a lock, but simply films that could potentially go on to be remembered at the year-end Oscar race. A few of these films may not even be released in 2010. Several of these films still don’t have distribution. A few of these films just started production. Suffice to say, this list, as the headline says, is preliminary.

If you have missed any of the previous installments there are links to parts one, two and three at the end of page two of this post and tomorrow, Friday, March 19, I will be posting the complete list in its entirety so you have a place to go until I finally finish up and debut the new “The Contenders” section. As the year goes on several of these films will drop off the list, others will be added and just like last year we will ultimately end up with our front-runners.

With all that said, let’s get started with part four, and finish this bad boy up…

Release Date: Release date not yet set
Distributor: Focus Features
Directed By: Sofia Coppola

Quick Thoughts: Oscar winner Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) returns for the first time since 2006’s Marie Antoinette with Somewhere from her own original script. Her cast includes Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Benicio del Toro and Michelle Monaghan and it’s assumed the film will try to get an Oscar jump start with a Cannes Film Festival debut in May.

Release Date: Release date not yet set
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Directed By: Stephen Frears
Quick Thoughts: Another one of those films that may or may not make it into the 2010 release schedule is Stephen Frears’s Tamara Drewe starring Gemma Arterton, Dominic Cooper and Roger Allam. At this point Sony Classics doesn’t have it on their 2010 schedule but it is in post and could pop up so for now we’ll keep it on the radar. Should it make it into this year Alexandre Desplat’s score would have to be considered as would Oscar-nominated Consolata Boyle (The Queen) for costumes.
Release Date: Release date not yet set
Distributor: Miramax Films
Directed By: Julie Taymor

Quick Thoughts: I have no idea what to expect from Julie Taymor’s The Tempest, but once again we run into another film that falls into the category of “what will happen with the Miramax films?” The film was originally thought to be arriving in 2009, but moved into 2010 as a lot of special effects work needed to be completed in post. The film serves as Taymor’s follow-up to 2007’s Across the Universe of which the troubles Taymor had with the studio were widely reported yet it still earned an Oscar nomination for costumes. Of course, Taymor’s bigger Oscar success story was 2002’s Frida, which was nominated for six Oscars and won two (makeup and score).

For The Tempest she has an all-star cast made up of Helen Mirren, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Ben Whishaw, Felicity Jones, David Strathairn, Alan Cumming, Chris Cooper and Tom Conti. Taymor adapted the script and has with her the Oscar-nominated cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh, Oscar winner Elliot Goldenthal provides the score, Oscar winning Françoise Bonnot (Z) edited the film, three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell (The Young Victoria, The Aviator and Shakespeare in Love) provides costumes and as with any Shakespeare feature the production team must be considered for art direction.

Release Date: September 10, 2010
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Directed By: Ben Affleck

Quick Thoughts: Ben Affleck’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone, is The Town, an adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s novel which he co-wrote with Peter Craig and Sheldon Turner (Up In the Air). Affleck stars in the film as a bank robber who becomes smitten with the teller (Rebecca Hall) of a bank he held up. Co-starring in the film are Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively. This film gives Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit a second chance at an Oscar nom along with Salt.

Release Date: June 18, 2010
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures / Pixar Animation
Directed By: Lee Unkrich

Quick Thoughts: I currently list ten films as potential candidates for Oscar’s Best Animated Feature, but of those ten films only Toy Story 3 looks like it has a chance to break out and make some waves elsewhere. The question is, Where? Lee Unkrich for director? Randy Newman for music? Sound? Effects? Best Picture?

Distributor: Apparition
Directed By: Terrence Malick

Quick Thoughts: Terrence Malick’s new film The Tree of Life will finally hit theaters in 2010 thanks to Apparition, now the question remains whether or not it will be worth the wait. Starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, it already has the acting and directing requirements and on top of receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Director with The Thin Red Line, his script was also nominated and Malick penned this script as well. Malick’s films are cinematography nominee locks and with The New World director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki with him again here I would say the same is almost a certainty. Pitt’s performance has already been compared to Robert DeNiro in This Boy’s Life with Apparition’s chief Bob Berney saying people are going to see a side of Pitt they haven’t seen before. Co-star Jessica Chastain is also said to make an impression as the film is likely to find its way into the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Release Date: December 25, 2010
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Quick Thoughts: When the Coen brothers make a movie you take notice. The thought of the Coen brothers making a western raises the eyebrows even higher. Word that western is a remake of True Grit starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper pretty much makes it a must see. Bridges will play the role that earned John Wayne his only acting Oscar win and relative newcomer Hailee Steinfeld was picked from among a reported 15,000+ girls to play the role of Mattie Ross, the role made popular by Kim Darby in the 1969 original. Acting, directing, screenplay and picture nominations are obviously expected here and with Roger Deakins serving as cinematographer in the Old West I expect him to get his ninth nomination and wouldn’t be surprised to see him get his first win… but I’m getting ahead of myself in my excitement. The costume work of Coen bros. regular Mary Zophres should be considered same with the art direction team and the brothers themselves as the pseudonym editor Roderick Jaynes.
Release Date: September 24, 2010
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Directed By: Oliver Stone

Quick Thoughts: I can’t help but wonder if Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps will be as needless as it sounds or if there will be some way for Stone and Michael Douglas to return to the glory of the first Wall Street, which is firmly supplanted in the ’80s from which it came, but still watchable today. The casting of Shia LaBeouf scares some, but critical favorite Carey Mulligan as Gekko’s daughter inspires others. Oscar nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto is working the lights and lens and Oscar-winning David Brenner (Born on the Fourth of July) and Julie Monroe are editing.


Marvel and DC