I’ve always found it funny to look back at articles like these. I originally wrote this prediction for The Triangle in July 2010. As someone who pays attention to the Oscars year-round and year after year, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about them, but seeing as I was pretty far off on a couple of my predictions, maybe I should re-consider this type of looking into the future… well, at least I got 5 out of the 10 predictions right. All things considered, doing that six months before the 2011 Oscars wasn’t bad.
February 2011 may seem like a long, long time away, but that doesn’t mean Oscar season hasn’t kicked into gear. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences just this week announced three new electees to their Board of Governors, including recent Oscar-winner, director Kathryn Bigelow and the next Oscars ceremony’s producers, Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer – thankfully, no Adam Shankman this year – have already been announced. Along with that news, rumors over who will host (Ricky Gervais anybody?) and a possible move to January have Oscar-watchers like myself fully occupied. So as ludicrous as it may seem, it’s never too early to make some bold predictions as to which 10 films will receive Best Picture nominations.
Many people view the Cannes Film Festival as the kick-off point for the awards circuit, as a host of big name directors premiere their films there. The truth is that the famous French film festival does not produce many “Oscar movies.” After last year’s festival, few films held onto their buzz into awards season aside from Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”
The case will likely be the same this year; however, there were two films that must be considered contenders. One was Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful.” The filmmaker premiered “Babel” at Cannes four years ago, and although the film failed to sweep away audiences, Inarritu may stand a better chance with his new film, starring Javier Bardem, who tied for Best Actor honors this year at Cannes. The better bet: “Another Year” from six-time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh. The suburban dramedy stars Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville in roles that are sure to land them in the Best Actor/Actress race when it’s released this December.
Traditionally, summer blockbusters don’t end up factoring into the Oscar race; however, with 10 Best Picture nominees, films like “District 9” and “Up” were able to squeeze a nomination. This year, “Toy Story 3” has managed to surpass audiences’ expectations and may be the first animated film to stand a chance at winning Best Picture. Also, although it hasn’t been released, “Inception” may be a contender as well. The film looks to be nothing short of mind-blowing and director Christopher Nolan is a hot commodity after his success with “The Dark Knight.”
Well-respected directors with recent Oscar recognition return with new films this year. Darren Aronofsky (“Requiem For A Dream,” “The Wrestler”) is set to put Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman into competition for Best Actress for “Black Swan” and David Fincher (“Fight Club,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) will be releasing “The Social Network,” a film about the founding of Facebook, later this year as well. Additionally, Aaron Schneider, who hasn’t directed a film since he won Best Live Action Short for “Two Soldiers” in 2004, returns to the screen with “Get Low,” which promises to give Bill Murray and Robert Duvall chances at Oscar glory. These films could be strong contenders, not just for Best Picture nominations, but for categories like acting, writing, cinematography and editing as well.
There are also filmmakers who are hoping to find Academy Award recognition for the first time in 2010. David O. Russell (“Three Kings,” “I Heart Huckabees”) is releasing his first film in six years with “The Fighter,” for which both Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale seem to be major acting contenders. Director/Producer Edward Zwick’s romantic comedy “Love and Other Drugs” about a salesman in the cutthroat world of male enhancement drugs will likely be a contender if the reviews are favorable when it’s released this November. Also, Tony Goldwyn’s film about Betty Anne Waters, “Conviction,” could bring Hilary Swank her third Oscar and finally give Sam Rockwell the awards recognition he’s long deserved.
Men directed all of the preceding films; it would be a disservice not to recognize the contenders directed by women, since Bigelow became the first female to win Best Director with Oscar 2010 favorite “The Hurt Locker.” Another candidate is Lisa Cholodenko: Her film “The Kids Are All Right,” starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, is about lesbian parents and their two kids who finally meet the man that donated the sperm. We’ll see how it is received when it goes into release this weekend. Hollywood royalty Sofia Coppola has a film titled “Somewhere” set to be released at the end of 2010, starring Benicio Del Toro as an actor who re-examines his life when surprised by a visit from his 11-year-old daughter. Perhaps other female-headed projects will emerge as well, just as “The Hurt Locker” surprised many with its success.
So which 10 films will be nominated? Bet on “Toy Story 3” and “Inception;” those films will be too big to ignore. You can also bet on “Another Year” and “The Social Network,” as the buzz on them will be too good to deny. Don’t be surprised if “The Fighter” and “Love & Other Drugs” get nominations, as their directors are trying hard for them. Pete Weir has been nominated six times, and now that he’s doing a war film, “The Way Back,” he’ll likely be nominated again. “Conviction” looks to be this year’s standout drama. I doubt the Academy is tired of George Clooney, so “The American,” which Clooney is starring in, should receive a nomination. Also, the latest Coen Brothers film “True Grit” will likely be in the running, as the Coen Brothers are perennial Oscar favorites.