With the start of October comes "award season" in America. That time of the year when each new week brings forth movies that seem to have some sort of minute dream of being anointed. Unfortunately for anyone who doesn't live in New York City, the dream of being able to see all of these movies on opening day is but a dream and nothing else. So I thought I'd have a little look see and find out when us Australians are going to be deemed worthy enough of seeing the films that will factor into Oscars (or, in some cases, won't - ouch) as well as some other noteworthy titles that pique my interest.
Australia has had a few titles arrive on our doorstep early this year. Coco Avant Chanel (review) and The Young Victoria (review) have already come and gone, possibly because distributors realise that adults want movies throughout the entire year and that if you shove all the prestige fare into a few months at the the end of the year then you're cannibalising your audience. Perhaps.
Of course, all dates are incredibly subject to change.
Julie & Julia - Aiming for a Best Actress nomination for Meryl Streep, anything else is probably asking too much.
Moon - Too austere for Oscar, but it looks fantastic anyway.
Whip It - As others have alluded to, this is like a Bring It On for roller derby, and considering how good Bring it On is, that is a good thing.
The Damned United - Not my thing, but Peter Morgan should never be discounted.
The Final Destination - Best Picture, surely!
An Education - A big fish for Oscar is this British film, written by Nick Hornby and directed by Danish Lone Scherfig. Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep (up above at the start of the month) will probably be duking it out for Best Actress.
Michael Jackson's This Is It - I wonder if sentiment could push this into the Best Documentary race over the documentaries about Chinese injustices and abortion clinics in Iowa that always fill up the list of contenders. Personally, I'm a bit creeped out by it...
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Heath Ledger's final film is by Terry Gilliam. Co-stars Christopher Plummer, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Johnny Depp. Will probably be in the hunt for technical nominations, like Art Direction and Costume Design, but not much else.
A Christmas Carol - Looks dreadful and the animation branch haven't nominated a Zemeckis motion capture film for Best Animated Feature yet, but still worth keeping an eye on.
Capitalism: A Love Story - Briefly touted as a Best Picture contender when the field was widened to ten, but negative comparisons to his previous work will do him in. Might make it into Best Documentary as a sign of respect though.
Genova - Anything that keeps the "Colin Firth is due!" bubble floating should be noted. However, A Single Man, the film for which he is receiving Best Actor buzz, isn't anywhere to be found for a local release.
Amelia - Hilary Swank is gunning for a third Best Actress trophy for her performance as Amelia Eakhart. I don't see that happening, but a nomination along the lines of Angelina Jolie in Changeling (as in, completely undeserving, but ticking all the prerequisite boxes for a nomination) is very possible.
2012 - In the race for visual effects. Am I crazy for wanting to see this movie? I probably am, aren't I?
The Boys are Back - I don't think Clive Owen will be getting anywhere near Best Actor, but it could prove a big hit here in Australia (it's a co-Australian production). Looks like a wet rag of a film though, to tell you the truth.
A Serious Man - Everyone keeps talking about how "jewish" this movie is. I don't really know what that means.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - A definite contender for Animated Feature, especially if it is expanded to five nominees (the others likely being Up, Coraline, Ponyo and something else).
Paranormal Activity - I can't help but think this release date isn't going to stick and that it will end up eventually just going direct-to-DVD.
The Informant! - Steven Soderbergh returns to broad comedy with this Matt Damon-starrer. Will be in the hunt, but might come up short. Matt Damon is the film's best hope at this stage for a nomination.
Where the Wild Things Are - I'm a bit disappointed we have to wait until December to see this, but such is life. I have grown accustomed to it. It remains as one of the big question marks of the Oscar race. Can Spike Jonze - a previous nominee for Being John Malkovich - help this "kids movie" across any lines whatsoever?
Away We Go - Thankfully appears to be DOA. Now away you go... (oh, see what I did there? amazing.)
Avatar - Another big question mark, but in many ways. Will it be a "game changer"? Will Oscar fall for it at all and embrace James Cameron yet again? Will it be outgrossed by The Twilight Saga: New Moon? We'll soon see. it gets nine days all to itself though until Boxing Day.
26 Dec (BOXING DAY!)
Bright Star - Jane Campion's return to prestige period fare is this Australia/Britain/USA/France co-production that is sure to figure into awards season in some way, but my eyes are going immediately to Best Actress (Abbie Cornish), Original Screenplay and techs like Costume Design, Art Direction and Cinematography.
Broken Embraces - Almodovar's latest probably won't be seeing any Oscar glory, but a Best Cinematography or Best Original Score nomination isn't out of the question. Penelope Cruz is slipping in the Best Actress ranks though it would seem.
The Lovely Bones - One of the 500lb gorillas of the season is Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, starring Saoirse Ronan (Best Actress potential), Mark Wahlberg (won't get into Best Actor), Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon (Best Supporting Actress potential) and Stanley Tucci (looking like a surefire Supporting Actor nominee) as well as in the techs, like any Jackson film is these days. However, they could have easily screwed the adaptation up and it'll go murky. There's always one big casualty.
Nowhere Boy - Some will say that this small British film about a famed tragic singer can sneak it, but it won't. Control taught us that.
Sherlock Holmes -Definite contender for categories such as Art Direction and Costume Design, but wouldn't it be a hoot to see Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law in the running for acting prizes?
The Princess and the Frog - Disney's return to hand-drawn animation will be a contender for Animated Feature as well as the music categories, with its original songs by Randy Newman. Looking forward to this one!
The Fantastic Mr Fox - You can tell it's school holidays during this time because all the kiddie fare is being released. I don't expect this to get an Animated Feature nomination - too oddball for the animation branch, I reckon - but it could surprise, and the the film looks ace.
Up in the Air - Directed by Jason Reitman (Juno) and starring George Clooney, this has quickly become one of the big buzz titles of the season. Thankfully we don't have to wait eons for it! George Clooney will be a five-time nominee if he gets another Best Actor nod.
Bran Nue Dae - Just mentioning this because I wasn't aware of the release date. My review is over here. I hope it's a big hit.
Invictus - Clint Eastwood directs a movie about Nelson Mandela and casts Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Why on Earth would anybody predict this for Academy Awards? They're outta there damn minds!
Nine - Gah! Having to wait until late January for Rob Marshall's all-star (very rare time when that term is actually true) Nine is not ideal! Another of the big players in the season and sure to make the Academy roll over and submit.
The Road - With so many Aussie features (director, actor, scorer) it's hard to believe this isn't an Australia film, but it isn't. I'm sure the distributor will milk the connections for all they're worth.
Everybody's Fine - Some are talking up this movie as a Best Actor vehicle for Robert DeNiro, but doesn't it just feel like one of those movies that nobody gets excited about and then vanishes without a trace? See Nothing but the Truth as an example from last year.
The Hurt Locker - Kathryn Bigelow's film has thankfully been reinstated to theatrical release after that brief sojourn to Direct-to-DVD. Smartly placed to capitalise on the Best Picture and Best Director nominations (plus several others, surely) that are bound to be handed to it.
Shutter Island - Won't be figuring into Oscar's bubble since it's US release is also 2010, but I just wanted to mention it.
A Single Man - Tom Ford's directorial debut is a big deal for Colin Firth who will surely be in the running for a Best Actor Oscar and Julianne Moore who has perhaps the best shot of anyone (barring a huge leap by one of the Nine ladies) to usurp Mo'Nique as the pre-ordained Best Supporting Actress.
The Wolfman - Another former 2009 title that was moved to early 2010, and another one that could legitimately factor into the 2010/11 awards season, but it's way too early to be thinking about that. Right?
Alice in Wonderland - Another big 2010 title we won't have to wait for! I like this trend very much.
Of course, there are plenty of titles that don't have confirmed dates yet. Titles that have to wait until they win some awards in order to get a release. Lee Daniels' Precious is a title that would normally go direct-to-DVD, but with awards love it will get to avoid that fate. It has a tentative February date, but nothing set.
Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life doesn't even have a firm US release so an Australian one is out of the question at the current time. I hope it's sooner rather than later. The Men Who Stare at Goats is an intriguing film and I can't find any release info so who knows when it will pop up. Meanwhile, titles like The Last Station (Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, James McAvoy) and The Evening Sun (Hal Holbrook), which have hate-blooming buzz, will magically appear at some point in the new year and nobody will pay much attention.
And then there are the foreign titles. Movies like The White Ribbon, Un Prophet and Police, Adjective will all show up at various stages. I'm sure at least one of them won't get here until this time next year. That's just how distribution of foreign cinema works, unfortunately.
If anyone hears of releases (or date changes) for anything, be sure to let me know by emailing glenndunks at gmail dot com.