In the past seven days or so, there have probably been more developments in the awards race than will be seen during any time period this year. Except for maybe the next seven days. With the Telluride Film Festival over, the Venice Film Festival entering its eighth day, and the Toronto Film Festival a day away from opening, a lot has gone down and roughly just as much is about to.
This is the third edition of this column so far this awards season. The first looked at contenders from before Toronto, Venice and Telluride, the second previewed what those fests might be about to say. This edition won't attempt anything so extensive. Once Toronto has come and gone, it'll take a more detailed look at what these fests have suggested about this year's fall fare. But in the meantime, there's an opportunity for a little mid-madness housekeeping and get quickly brought up to date.
Between Telluride and Venice, essentially seven films that were thought of to have bona fide awards chances have been screened and reviewed: Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan," Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech," Julian Schnabel's "Miral," Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere," Mark Romanek's "Never Let Me Go," Danny Boyle's "127 Hours," and - if it ends up getting a 2011 release date - Peter Weir's "The Way Back."
At this point, "The King's Speech" seems like the biggest winner of the lot. Reviews have been across-the-board glowing, with most Oscar prognosticators agreeing this is very much up the Academy's alley. Nominations for picture, director and actors Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter all seem pretty likely.
Fox Searchlight trio "127 Hours," "Black Swan" and "Never Let Me Go" all were generally well-received, though there have certainly been a few "are these Oscar movies" questions surrounding "Hours" and its intensity, "Swan"'s dark subject matter, and "Never Let Me Go"'s divisiveness (of the three, Romanek's film definitely received the most mixed reviews). "Hours" is Searchlight's probable best bet for now, but reactions for all three in Toronto will be telling as to what kind of awards legs each film has. Though "Hours" lead James Franco and "Swan" star Natalie Portman are both sitting pretty for acting nominations, unless the competition really heats up.
As for the other three, things are much more murky. Coppola's "Somewhere" got its share of warm notices, but many suggested it was bit too slight for the kind of film that gets big Oscar nominations. Schnabel's "Miral," meanwhile, was quite tepidly received and it appears as though it's not a "Diving Bell and the Butterfly." And then there's Peter Weir's "The Way Back," which popped up unexpectedly in Telluride (but is strangely not screening in Toronto) and has a release date of January 21, 2011, with no Academy qualification run currently plan. That could easily change, and mostly strong reviews suggest distributor Newmarket would have reason to do. But, currently nobody seems to know for sure.
So here's an updated version of the contender list offered a few weeks back. This column will take a break next week during Toronto, and then will come back will the year's first full set of Oscar predictions.
Safe Bets: "Another Year," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech," "Inception," "Toy Story 3"
Reasonable Maybes: "127 Hours," "Black Swan," "Blue Valentine," "Never Let Me Go"
Dark Horses: "Fair Game," "Get Low," "Inside Job," "Somewhere," "The Way Back," "Winter's Bone"
Safe Bets: Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech," Christopher Nolan, "Inception"
Reasonable Maybes: Danny Boyle, "127 Hours," Mike Leigh, "Another Year"; Lisa Cholodenko, "The Kids Are All Right"
Dark Horses: Darren Aronofsky, "Black Swan," Derek Cianfrance, "Blue Valentine"; Debra Granik, "Winter's Bone"; Mark Romanek, "Never Let Me Go"
Safe Bets: Colin Firth, "The King's Speech," James Franco, "127 Hours"
Reasonable Maybes: Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"; Robert Duvall, "Get Low"; Ryan Gosling, "Blue Valentine"
Dark Horses: Jim Broadbent, "Another Year"; Leonardo diCaprio, "Inception"; Leonardo diCaprio, "Shutter Island"; Michael Douglas, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"; Sean Penn, "Fair Game," Jim Sturgess, "The Way Back"
Safe Bets: Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"; Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Reasonable Maybes: Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"; Lesley Manville, "Another Year"; Julianne Moore, "The Kids Are All Right"; Michelle Williams, "Blue Valentine"
Dark Horses: Carey Mulligan, "Never Let Me Go," Tilda Swinton, "I Am Love"; Naomi Watts, "Fair Game," Michelle Williams, "Meek's Cutoff"
Best Supporting Actor
Safe Bets: Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right," Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"
Reasonable Maybes: None.
Dark Horses: Vincent Cassel, "Black Swan," Andrew Garfield, "Never Let Me Go," Ed Harris, "The Way Back," Bill Murray, "Get Low"
Best Supporting Actress
Safe Bets: Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"
Reasonable Maybes: Barbara Hershey, "Black Swan"
Dark Horses: Marion Cotillard, "Inception"; Dale Dickey, "Winter's Bone"; Anne-Marie Duff, "Nowhere Boy"; Elle Fanning, "Somewhere," Keira Knightley, "Never Let Me Go," Mila Kunis, "Black Swan," Saoirse Ronan, "The Way Back," Ruth Sheen, "Another Year"; Sissy Spacek, "Get Low"; Kristin Scott Thomas, "Nowhere Boy"; Mia Wasikowska, "The Kids Are All Right," Jackie Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"
Best Original Screenplay:
Safe Bets: "Another Year"; "The Kids Are All Right"; "The King's Speech"
Reasonable Maybes: "Black Swan"; "Blue Valentine" "Inception"
Dark Horses: "Biutiful"; "Get Low"; "The Illusionist"; "You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger"
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Safe Bets: "Toy Story 3"
Reasonable Maybes: "127 Hours," "How To Train Your Dragon"; "Winter's Bone"
Dark Horses: "Fair Game"; "The Ghost Writer"; "Never Let Me Go"; "Tamara Drewe"