Sadly cinephiles will have to go through another holiday season without unwrapping Terrence Malick’s ridiculously long-awaited epic Tree of Life. But just wait until next year! December of 2011 is shaping up to potentially be one for the ages as we will finally (dear god, please) get to see Malick’s Tree of Life, Marty Scorsese will be unleashing his experimental 3D adaptation of the acclaimed children’s book Hugo Cabret, and Paul Thomas Anderson will hopefully be delivering his thinly veiled critique of Scientology with the already controversial The Master.
Meanwhile in 2010, before taking a look at the months ahead as Hollywood gears up for their Prestige Picture season, let’s round-up some of the Oscar hopefuls already released. With the field open wide to 10 Best Picture slots, I think we already have at least five shoe-ins:
- Inception – Nolan’s mind-bending summer blockbuster
- Winter’s Bone – the little indie film that could (and arguably the year’s best film)
- Toy Story 3 – it’s Pixar, duh!
- The Town – Ben Affleck’s heartfelt and crowd-pleasing apology for Gigli
- The Social Network – the “of-the-moment” critical darling
What could potentially breakthrough as the competition in the coming months? Here’s a run down:
- Carlos – This Olivier Assayas crime epic about infamous terrorist Carlos “The Jackal” is playing only at the IFC theater in NYC right now but to rave reviews and crazy-good buzz from Sam Juliano over at Wonders in the Dark. Two versions exist: a 5 hour “mini-series”, and a 2+ hour “film” version. Will wider audiences get to see either? Though this is ineligible for Oscars, it appears to be a must-see of the highest order.
- Hereafter – A Clint Eastwood film is always a potential contender, but this Babel meets The Sixth Sense mash-up (released in NY & LA last weekend) is already receiving mixed reviews. I wouldn’t count on this one unless it lights up the box office.
- Fair Game (11/5) – Political films are always a tough sell and the buzz on this has been iffy. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn still have good shots at acting nods even if this doesn’t light a fuse.
- Black Swan (12/1) – Aronofsky surely has the creep-factor working in overdrive on this psychological thriller that looks like Mulholland Drive: The Ballet. Natalie Portman seems a lock for a Best Actress nod…and the film’s other chances will live or die by the buzz.
- The Fighter (12/10) – Boxing films are always big contenders, especially when directed by volatile auteurs like David O. Russell. The previews for this works like gangbusters. Mark Whalberg could easily score a Best Actor nod, and this could be the film that finally brings home the little gold statues for Christian Bale and Amy Adams. This has the potential to be a true knockout.
- Somewhere (12/10) – Hey, it’s Sofia Coppola getting back to her roots. The previews for this look hella-dreamy…and if critics like-y, this could be a surprise hit. Or it could just be too slight to matter.
- The Tourist (12/10) – Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie star in Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck’s first English-language film? Sounds intriguing…until you find out it’s a remake…and you see the previews. This mistaken-identify, beautiful locale-hopping, romantic thriller looks about as intriguing as a glass of cheap champagne at your boss’ third wedding. Box office potential is still huge, but this looks like a dud.
- True Grit (12/25) – The original teaser for this Coen Brothers’ quasi-remake of the John Wayne semi-classic just oozed with mood and menace. The latest trailer seems to play for more of those uncomfortable (and occasionally tone-deaf) Coen Brothers’ laughs and was met with dismissal from the crowd I was with. I’m not sure if this thing is going to work, but if it does…watch out.
- Blue Valentine (12/31) – Honestly this indie domestic drama (starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) doesn’t interest me at all…but the NC-17 rating could make this a cause-celebre if timed right, and the two leads are perennial contenders.
Other Potential Contenders: The King’s Speech (a stuttering Colin Firth in a period drama oozes prestige), The Tempest (Hollywood thou lovest The Bard), and Biutiful (the latest from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
Written by David H. Schleicher
Links to trailers for many of the films mentioned here can be found by clicking the film’s title on the sidebar.
What upcoming films do you think stink with prestige? Have any early Oscar predictions? What films are you most looking forward to?