Tuesday, 21 September 2010


What started out as a slow year looks to be finishing with a flurry of high end releases. Some of those remain to be seen (no reviews, only trailers), but based on buzz and pedigree, these are the films looking most likely to be one of the final 10 Best Picture contenders. I've divided them into Definites (almost certain to be nominated), Critics' Faves (but the Academy could go either way) and Blind Siders (in honour of last year's least deserving nominee ie well made crowd pleasers but not great).
(* denotes I've seen it)


THE KING'S SPEECH* Raves at the Toronto Film Festival immediately shot this period drama to favourite status. Tom Hooper, who directed TV's brilliant John Adams, apparently injects life into a story about the English royals on the eve of WWII aided by two great performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK* Opening this past week in the US, David Fincher's take on the creation, and subsequent battle for ownership of Facebook has critics in a lather, praising it not only as the film of the year but of our times.

INCEPTION* Three months ago, Christopher Nolan's film was the BP favourite and there's no doubt it will make the final 10, after all, it was the failure of The Dark Knight to be nominated for BP that is believed to have instigated the Academy's expansion of 5 to 10 and embrace of more “popular” films.

TOY STORY 3* If there is to be an animated film in the final 10, Pixar's latest has to be it. Not just because it is the third and final film in a brilliantly executed franchise or because it's the highest grossing film of 2010, but because it is one of the most emotionally rewarding films of the year.

127 HOURS Danny Boyle's previous film, Slumdog Millionaire, scored the Picture/Director double in 2008 and the positive Toronto response to his latest, the true story of an adventurer who, after being pinned under a rock for four days amputated his arm, should see him in the mix once again.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT* Every Oscars race has a little film that could and Lisa Cholodenko's intelligent and heartfelt comedy fits that bill in 2010. Excellent performances (Bening, Moore and Ruffalo are all contenders), critical love and good box office ($20m on a budget of $4m) should see it in all right.

TRUE GRIT Okay, so no-one has seen it yet and hence there have been no early reviews but based on the brief trailer released online last week (a longer one goes online this week), I say if it's a half-decent Coen brothers film it's in.


ANOTHER YEAR Mike Leigh is no stranger to the Oscars (Secrets and Lies, Vera Drake) and his latest, buzzed at Cannes and subsequent festivals, is considered one of his best.

BLACK SWAN Doing for ballet what The Wrestler did for that sport, Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller revolving around Swan Lake and a never better Natalie Portman, would be an out-of-left-field pick for the Academy.

BLUE VALENTINE Premiered at Sundance way back in February, this small but powerful film about the breakdown of a marriage could prove too hard to resist or too hard to take. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are said to be brilliant.

THE WAY BACK Just announced today that it would be getting an Oscar 2010 qualifying run, Peter Weir's first film in seven years received warm reviews at Telluride a few weeks ago. Weir himself has been nominated several times and this tale of an epic journey via foot, from Siberia to India, could again land him a double nod. (added 0ct 7)


THE TOWN* Critics like Ben Affleck's second outing as director and box office has been good to this Boston-set crime drama. The Departed-lite?

MADE IN DAGENHAM* A stirring drama about the fight for equal rights for women factory workers in the UK in the 1960s. Norma Rae, anyone?

SECRETARIAT True story of the racehorse that won everything. Seabiscuit (2003) made it in when there were just 5 contenders so...

THE FIGHTER Another sports film and the Academy loves a pugilist (Rocky, Million Dollar Baby) and a true story. Directed by David O. Russell.

CONVICTION A woman puts herself through law school to defend her brother who is accused of murder. A true story, courtroom drama and Hilary Swank!

HEREAFTER A Clint Eastwood film can't be ignored, nor a screenplay by Peter 'The Queen' Morgan, but a supernatural drama? Sorry, a meditation on mortality.

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