(I only included films that could end up in top8 categories, therefore animated features and visual extravaganzas aren't listed)
- The Tree of LifeWithout a doubt, THE strongest contender that has come out so far. It won big at Cannes, then wowed US-critics and is doing excellent arthouse-business at the moment. Add Malick's prestige and the star power of the Pitt-Penn duo, and you have a VERY solid contender.Bottom line : Top5 player ?
- Midnight in ParisThe general consensus is that this is Woody Allen's best film in years, and critics are not the only ones who think so...the audience loves it, too. This could be definitely „the comedy” in the category.Bottom line : Picture-screenplay nominations ?
- BeginnersSo far so good...but unfortunately the early release date will be tough to overcome once the „big” players start arriving.Bottom line : This year's 'The Kids are all right' (=picture, screenplay, acting)?
- Jane EyreIt has the reviews, Academy-friendly genre and source material and it has delivered solid numbers so far, as well. If it had come out a few months later, it would be a shoo-in for a best picture nomination, but that March release date will definitely hurt its campaign IF there will be one.Bottom line : it has the makings of a best picture nominee, but it needs a killer campaign to pull it off. If it does, it will be the 'earliest' bp-nominee since Fargo.
- Win WinCritics loved it, but it came out way too early to register in the race, although I truly hope I'll be wrong about this one. Hopefully critics groups will give it a much-needed push in December.Bottom line : A screenplay nomination could still happen.
- A Better LifeIt was a Sundance-darling and Bichir received remarkably strong reviews for his performance, but I can't help but think it will be considered way too small and 'indie' to get noticed, Bottom line : Bichir is a long shot...for now.
- Super 8For a supposed tentpole, it is relatively low-budgeted yet it will make a lot of money, add J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg and the great reviews, and we might just have another District 9 on our hands.Bottom line : This year's District 9 (=picture, screenplay, technicals) ?
- Meek's CutoffCritics raved about this one but they will be probably not enough to keep the film's campaign alive.Bottom line : It will be probably considered as one of the „most overlooked” of 2011. On paper it could have been this year's Winter's Bone Oscar-wise, but it just simply doesn't have the same kind of buzz.
- X-Men : First ClassCritics liked it but didn't necessarily love it...same with audiences. Sure, it turned out to be better than expected, but it will be probably still not enough.Bottom line : A few technical nominations are its best shot at Kodak.
- BridesmaidsStunning Box Office, great reviews, likeable cast...having said that, if The Hangover didn't get in, neither will Bridesmaids UNLESS the Academy decides to acknowledge Kristen Wiig in the original screenplay-category....THEN we're talkin...Bottom line : On paper, it's a Golden Globe-player in the comedy categories BUT it definitely has potential to surprise.
- Beautiful BoyCritics agree : the film is good, the two leads – Maria Bello and Michael Sheen – are outstanding as always...too bad it failed to make ANY impact at the Box Office. It has already started to fade and that's not a good thing...IN JUNE!Bottom line : With a later release date, at least one of the leads might have gone away with the nonexistent Box Office Rabbit Hole-style, but now their only hope is a strong critics groups-push and even that might not be enough. For the record, I AM rooting for two of the best working actors today !
- The BeaverNo Box Office, no critical support. Apparently Gibson gave his best performance to date, but taking everything into account, he probably couldn't get a nomination even if it weren't for his highly-publicized personal troubles.Bottom line : Mel Gibson is still a long shot...but long shots are called long shots for a reason...they RARELY make it.
- HannaCritics liked it, the Box Office surprised in a good way, so on paper, the two highly acclaimed female performances still have a shot at this.Bottom line : Saoirse Ronan and Cate Blanchett could still sneak in...especaially latter, considering she is playing a remarkably baity supporting role and the Academy LOVES when leading ladies do that...
- Source CodeIf they had ended with the freeze shot, I would have loved this film...anyway, it was still good, but definitely not the Academy's cup of tea even though it became a critically acclaimed, international hit.Bottom line : It is a long shot in a few technical categories.
- Certified CopyIt received raves (82 on Metacritic) and there is still some hope that the studio will campaign for Juliette Binoche's Cannes-winning performance, but even if they do, the film is criminally under the radar at the moment.Bottom line : Binoche is a long shot.
- Everything must goGood but not great and way too earlyBottom line : Doesn't stand a chance.
- We need to talk about KevinBased on early word, it could become a strong player (best picture nominee-strong), but in reality it will be probably too small for the Academy.Bottom line : Hopefully Tilda Swinton won't get snubbed for the third consecutive time...and the script could get in, as well.
- The ArtistPeople who have seen it, LOVED it, so if it can charm the the US, too, it could get in...EASILY.Bottom line : Picture, actor, technical categories could happen...EASILY.
- MelancholiaEven without the scandal, Lars von Trier's films are just too divisive for the Academy.Bottom line : Kirsten Dunst...
- DriveAcademy-members rarely get out of their comfort zones and when they do, the film has to be HUGE (Black Swan)...Drive just doesn't seem like one that could break out even though it will be probably an excellent film...well, it DID win Best Director at Cannes. Bottom line : It has to overcome A LOT...
- The Skin I Live inEarly word suggests that this will be similar to the case of Broken Embraces : good, maybe even great but not Almodóvar-great. He is the one to blame...he set the bar too high.Bottom line : If the US-critics REALLY fell in love with it, the Academy would find a way to ackowledge it...Anaya, Banderas, screenplay, directing, editing, art direction, make-up, score ?
- This must be the placeBased on early word, Sean Penn is great...the film isn't.Bottom line : Sean Penn has a shot.
- RestlessBased on early word, Mia Wasikowska is great...the film isn't.Bottom line : Mia Wasikowska also has the critically acclaimed arthouse-hit, Jane Eyre this year, as well...so IF she is considered, it probably won't be for Restless.
- Martha Marcy May MarleneIt seems to be all about Elizabeth Olsen's breakthrough performance.Bottom line : if it won't be considered too 'smalledgyindie', Olsen could pull a Jennifer Lawrence this year.
- Take ShelterJust like Melancholia, it might not be something the Academy would go for even if it is a great film.Bottom line : Indie Spirit Awards.
- Like CrazyThe two leads – Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones – received some good ink, but the film REALLY has to break out, otherwise their (relative) unknown status will hurt them.Bottom line : IF it breaks out...IF.
- Our Idiot BrotherThe Weinsteins have a lot of Oscary-films on their 2011-schedule, so they will probably NOT bother with this one.Bottom line : I don't know...maybe Paul Rudd ?
- Another EarthIt looks too edgy and small...but for the record, the Academy sometimes goes for that. Bottom line : IF it does decent arthouse-business, it might have a shot after all.
- Higher GroundVera Farmiga's directorial debut...unfortunately that's all I know about this one.Bottom line : ???
- CoriolanusShakespeare, Fiennes and Redgrave definitely sounds like a trio the Academy could go for in a heartbeat, but it has to be universally acclaimed first.Bottom line : If everything goes well, this could be a strong player (picture-director-actor-supporting actress – adapted screenplay)...but it needs unanimous critical support.
We'll have word during the Summer about :
- Larry Crowne (at first glance : HFPA-material)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (does it even have a tiny shot at pulling a ROTK?)
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Fox Searchlight...don't know much about it)
- Captain America (I don't know why I put it here, tiny hunch it might not suck)
- The Help (very Oscary-subject...maybe Viola Davis ? Emma Stone ?)
- One Day (did Lone Scherfig do it again ?)
and Venice will clear a few things up, too
- A Dangerous Method
- Wuthering Heights
other potential Venice-premieres : War Horse, Contagion, The Descendants, The Ides of March, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy