Wait Until Next Year

Another year goes by and still no sign of Malick's TREE.

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

Dark-horsesShutter Island, The Ghost Writer, The Kids Are All Right

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.
After years of terrible acting, Portman finally strikes a pose for Oscar.
  • 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 ContendersThe 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?


  1. I went out to see HEREAFTER last Friday night and I was really disappointed. For a movie about death and the possibility of an afterlife it is shockingly emotionless. We never really connect to any of the characters, with the possible exception of Cecile de France who delivers a wonderfully understated performance.

    Of those movies you anoint sure things, I really only think “The Social Network” and “Inception” fit that bill. “Toy Story 3” has a better shot, but only because there are 10 nominees. I don’t think “The Town” or “Winter’s Bone” have much of a shot at a nomination. “The Town” wasn’t that good, and not enough people saw “Winter’s Bone” (and though we have already sparred over it, I want to also point out that I don’t think “Winter’s Bone” is a good movie either).

    Your list of “dark horses” seem more likely to get nominations, even though they all came out early in the year. As for those that haven’t been released yet, I’ll withhold judgment. But “Carlos” isn’t eligible for the Oscar since it premiered on television in France. The Academy is still clinging to their increasingly archaic rule that a film must premiere on a big screen.

    I am however looking forward to just about all the movies on your upcoming list (including “Carlos” which is playing here next weekend.

    Jason, the more I hear about Hereafter, the more I feel it will have to wait until DVD. I think most of the academy will get to see Winter’s Bone on DVD (I think it comes out next month), but you may be right…it seems more likely to get a screenwriting and lead actress nod than Best Pic – but with a field of 10, I think it has an excellent chance still. –DHS

  2. Jason Marshall is my very good friend but I couldn’t disagree with him more on WINTER’S BONE, which is easily one of the best films of the year for all sorts of reasons. Jason is actually the first person I’ve encountered anywhere who has gone as far as to say it’s not a good film. And I’d wager money it finishes among the ten nominees, as the Academy loves to include major critics’ hits and with the spectacular reviews it’s garnered they will be hard pressed to omit it.

    As far as THE TOWN, I again disagree with Jason on it’s prospects. I don’t care much for the film either, but I recognize it’s been praised to the heavens by critics and has been embraced by moviegoers. I frankly can’t see how it won’t get in the Top 10, but the proof will be in the pudding. TOY STORY 3 is a shoe-in for a nod, just as UP was last year. I agree that INCEPTION and THE SOCIAL NETWORK are shoe-ins, and that SHUTTER ISLAND has a decent shot.

    As far as TREE OF LIFE and that wonderfully-anticipated (as well) HAUGO CABRET, I agree that December of 2011 will be a time to celebrate.

    David, when you say “Wait Until Next Year” are you also talking about your beloved Philadelphia Phillies and my New York Yankess? What happened. Everything has come crashing down and it does look like a Texas Rangers-San Francisco Giants World Series. This may not pan out for sure, but If I were a betting man….

    Sam, I agree with you on Winter’s Bone – it’s my film of the year thus far. The title of this post was in no way intended to reference the MLB playoffs…but, wow, yeah…it kinda does. –DHS

  3. I’ll admit I was a bit too harsh there on Jason with the ‘everyone loves it’ remark. Jason has always defended his positions brilliantly.

    David, thanks so much for that shout-out too on CARLOS!!

    • You weren’t too harsh Sam. I can take it. I know lots of people inexplicably like this movie, but that doesn’t change the fact I didn’t like it. As far as its prospects for awards I don’t claim to have any special foresight, but of the people I know in the Academy none of them have even HEARD of the movie, let alone seen it. That might change if they get DVDs in an Oscar campaign, but I would suspect it would more likely get a best actress nod over best picture. (Of course who knows with ten slots.) But that is the dirty secret of Hollywood: people who work in the industry don’t watch movies that aren’t blockbusters. They see what everyone else is seeing, leaving the small stuff to film students, cinephiles, and the still idealistic kids just starting in the industry.

  4. The Phillies are now leading the Giants 3-1 in the fourth inning of Game 5, though like the Yankees (who trail 3 games to 2) they have quite a job ahead of them.

  5. OK David……just heard the final, and the Phillies are still alive. (Congratulations!) They are basically in the same boat as the Yankees, though the Phils are heading back to the City of Brotherly Love, while the Bombers are heading to Texas……..and Cliff Lee. Ugh!

    (Oddly though, home teams are not faring as prohibitively well as one would think in all these playoffs.)

    Sam, it was a nail-biter last night in San Fran. Going back to Philly, I think we still have a good shot. I would never count out the Yanks, but things do look grim for them. –DHS

  6. 2010 New York Yankees.


    Same goes for the Phils now. 1st time in awhile I could care less about the outcome of the WS. Though I think it’s gonna be Texas. –DHS

  7. David, if I were betting here I would have lost my house. Texas vs. San Francisco is a nightmare scenario for the networks. It does look like the Giants are a team of destiny, even if Cliff Lee will probably stonewall them in game 1.

    Everyone was thinking Phillies vs. Yankees. Who would have thunk it?

  8. Quick Update: Malick’s TREE OF LIFE will now apparently be released in the US on 05/27/2011 – presumably fresh from a Cannes premier and with a staggered release plan to build word-of-mouth as counter programming during the summer.

    We wait with baited breath to see if this comes to fruition…

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