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At first glance - Top10 Oscar-studios of 2011

  1. SONY
      Sony probably has the most prestigious lineup this year considering they have films from highly acclaimed directors like David Fincher (THE GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO), Woody Allen (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS), Roman Polanski (Carnage), David Cronenberg (A DANGEROUS METHOD), George Clooney (THE IDES OF MARCH), Bennett Miller (MONEYBALL), Pedro Almodóvar (THE SKIN I LIVE IN) and Gus Van Sant (RESTLESS). On paper, they have 5-6 remarkably strong contenders this year, and though it is hard to imagine any of these masters messing up (although Gus Van Sant's film is already ouf of the race if we can trust the early word from Cannes), I guess we'll just have to wait and see whether these films will resonate with Academy-voters or not.
      The studio could also surprise with not so obvious players like TAKE SHELTER, ANONYMOUS, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE and HIGHER GROUND, but for now these are definitely in the dark horse-section.
      Paramount is close behind with Martin Scorsese (HUGO CABRET), Jason Reitman (YOUNG ADULT), Steven Spielberg (THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN) and J.J. Abrams (SUPER 8) in their corner, not to mention they co-produced EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, even though Warner Bros is the main studio of Stephen Daldry's latest.
      Paramount Vantage's LIKE CRAZY was a Sundance-favourite and lately those have been doing remarkably well Oscar-wise, but for now, the buzz is just not strong enough...but then again, it's June. Considering the iconic title character and the fact that it IS a period piece, I would have mentioned CAPTAIN AMERICA here...but to be honest, I don't trust the director, not after The Wolfman...but I would LOVE to be proven wrong.
      Warner Bros. has definitely nothing to be ashamed of, either : they have Stephen Daldry's EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE adapted by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), produced by Scott Rudin (The Social Network), starring two of the most likeable Oscar-winning movie stars in Hollywood (Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock). The new Clint Eastwood-film starring mega-star, Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role (J.EDGAR) is also on their 2011-schedule AND the last installment (HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART II) of their (multi)-Billion Dollar Baby could sneak into the best picture race, as well.
      Meanwhile Steven Soderbergh's star-studded sci-fi, CONTAGION will try to break down the walls between the genre and the Academy, and the studio also has an Academy-friendly inspirational family film (Dolphin Tale) and a promising broad comedy (CRAZY STUPID LOVE) coming out this year.
  4. FOX
      At first glance, it might seem that Fox has 'only' 3 serious Oscar-contenders this year, but considering we are talking about Terrence Malick (THE TREE OF LIFE), Alexander Payne (THE DESCENDANTS) and Cameron Crowe (WE BOUGHT A ZOO), I think it's safe to say that the studio could easily pull a 3/3 in the best picture category.
      Tom McCarthy's WIN WIN could still get some traction thanks to the rave reviews, and though MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE seems to be all about Elizabeth Olsen's performance, the film could surprise as well, just like Andrew Niccol's sci-fi IN TIME. And talking about sci-fi-s, Matthew Vaughn's X-MEN : FIRST CLASS was well-received enough to consider it, although it probably won't make it in the end, just like the Academy opted to ignore Star Trek, as well.
      The real dark horses are SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN and ANOTHER EARTH, neither seems to have what it takes to survive the long, long Awards-season. On the other hand, John Madden's THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL could be a lovely surprise IF Fox Searchlight decides to give it a push this year.
      Buena Vista could demonstrate perfectly this year, that a studio doesn't need a bunch of baity Awards-hopefuls to succeed...Steven Spielberg's remarkably Academy-friendly WAR HORSE could be easily the one to beat, and although I wouldn't bet on CARS 2 - simply because of the slightly underwhelming predecessor - , Pixar has done rather well in the best picture category in the last two years...having said that this seems to be exactly the kind of film that will suffer from the new Academy-rule and will notmake it. On the other hand, THE HELP definitely has potential, although will be probably hurt by the new rule, as well. And WINNIE THE POOH ?...hmm, highly unlikely...for now.
      The Weinsteins have a lot of 'maybes' at the moment : THE IRON LADY could be this year's The King's Speech, but it needs universal critical acclaim first; THE ARTIST was a big hit at Cannes, but needs a decent limited run first; CORIOLANUS received rave reviews at the Berlin Film Festival, but it might be too small in the end; MY WEEK WITH MARILYN looks like a great acting showcase at the moment, no more, no less; meanwhile films like W.E., SUBMARINE, OUR IDIOT BROTHER and SARAH'S KEY are big question marks.
  7. FOCUS
      IF Focus decides to give it a decent Oscar-push, the Academy-friendly and critically acclaimed JANE EYRE could have a shot. On paper, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY and ONE DAY look promising, but we need some decent early word first, meanwhile BEGINNERS could be easily this year's The Kids are all right and though the comparison might not fly, I could see Saoirse Ronan's HANNA being this year's Ree : strong teenage girl-character receiving rave reviews AND surviving the pre-season despite an early release date. Helen Mirren will probably get some good ink for THE DEBT, but the film itself doesn't look significant enough for serious consideration.
      THE IMPOSSIBLE definitely looks like something the Academy would go for in a heartbeat, but the lack of hype isn't exactly a good sign, some decent festival-play would definitely help. 50/50 and Chris Weitz's A BETTER LIFE could surprise, but for now, it doesn't seem likely, meanwhile SOURCE CODE will be probably remembered as 'that well-received sci-fi from April'.
      The fact that the studio's best shot is a long shot already (BRIDESMAIDS) says it all. Of course it doesn't mean they are making bad films, they are simply making ones that are not exactly the Academy's cup of tea...or at least, not this year. Having said that, there are a few dark horses here (LARRY CROWNE, WANDERLUST) and who knows, Jim Sheridan's thriller (DREAM HOUSE) could surprise, as well.
      FilmDistrict is THE big question mark of the season : they have a Cannes-favourite (DRIVE), Johnny Depp's latest (THE RUM DIARY), Angelina Jolie's directorial debut (IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY) and Guillermo del Toro's DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (he didn't serve as the director, but he was the producer and the screenwriter).
      On paper, all these could be players in the long run BUT nobody would be surprised if all these did absolutely nothing for the Academy, either.


RELATIVITYMarc Forster's MACHINE GUN PREACHER has that typical 'Oscary' story so don't be shocked if it turns out to be a contender after all. Relativity has just announced they WILL give it an Oscar-push and an Academy-friendly release date.

OSCILLOSCOPE – If the critics will be as enthusiastic in the US as they were in Cannes, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN could sneak in...on the other hand, MEEK'S CUTOFF will probably have to settle with the outstanding reviews.

IFC – They probably have the Best documentery-frontrunner, Werner Herzog's CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS. On paper, there is still a tiny chance they will at least try to campaign for Juliette Binoche's performance in CERTIFIED COPY – the one that garnered her first Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival -, but realistically speaking it's probably only wishful thinking.

MAGNOLIA – After the whole Lars von Trier-scandal, will they even try with MELANCHOLIA ? Maybe a Best Actress campaign...

LIONSGATE – They have been doing rather well lately considering they are not your typical 'Oscar'-studio. This year they could give a big push to THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE and who knows, it might just result Dominic Cooper's first Oscar nomination.

SAMUEL GOLDWYN FILMS - THE WHISTLEBLOWER received some good early word, especially its lead performance (Rachel Weisz), so hopefully this won't be another Nothing but the Truth when it will come to a viable campaign.


WUTHERING HEIGHTS – It is so ridiculously NOT on the map, that I think it would need an agressive Weinstein-push to get on the radar. Although IF it plays (incredibly) well at the Venice Film Festival, it will have no problem finding a looks like a film Focus Features could do wonders to, they have been definitely doing remarkably well with British romances lately (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice).

ON THE ROAD – The film is filled with rising stars and the director (The Motorcycle Diaries) is rather promising, as well...long story short : it will have a distributor VERY soon.

ALBERT NOBBS – On paper, this should be Glenn Close's year so I only hope the studio that will get this, will campaign the hell out of it, as well....yes, I am THAT sure she will nail this part.

SHAME – Venice could make all the difference for this one, although Fassbender's recent 'star-is-born-moment' (X-Men : First Class) will probably fasten things up, as well.

THE DOOR – Sony Pictures Classics did a great job with Being Julia – a film also directed by Istvan Szabo, featuring a brilliant actress in a baity lead role – so hopefully, they will pick it up soon. Or if they won't, SOMEONE will see its remarkable potential. Paramount Vantage had some decent success with Sunshine (another film from the director), as well...just saying. Helen Mirren could be definitely a remarkably strong contender for this.

SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMENLasse Hallstrom has a long history with the Weinsteins, so they would be my first guess here.

THE EYE OF THE STORMCharlotte Rampling...Judy Davis...Geoffrey Rush... it sounds like 3 acting nominations/awards waiting to happen. They could play trees and still make it look fascinating.

VIOLET AND DAISYSaoirse Ronan playing a teenage assassin...AGAIN ? It has to be better than Hanna, and for some reason, I don't think that will be the case here.

PEACE, LOVE AND MISUNDERSTANDING – Hmm, it could go either way..and by that I mean, it COULD have a stunning (limited) release OR the infamous straight-to-DVD treatment, just as well.


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