October 22, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson in first “We Bought a Zoo” trailer – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Once the frenzy surrounding the Toronto International Film Festival draws to a close, I’m going to do a comprehensive piece on the “unknowns,” the Oscar hopefuls that have yet to glide across our radars. I’ll turn my attention to Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar,” Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Phyllida Lloyd’s “The Iron Lady” and Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” for sure.

And then there’s Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo,” which I’m starting to expect has the potential to make a bigger splash than maybe we think at this early stage of the race.

Crowe’s “Elizabethtown” didn’t live up to his standards, and it helps us forget that he’s responsible for such powerful and engaging films as “Say Anything,” “Almost Famous” and “Jerry Maguire.” That last one — which earned Cuba Gooding Jr. a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as well as nominations for Best Actor (Tom Cruise), Film Editing (Joe Hutshing), Writing (Crowe) and Picture — comes to mind watching the first trailer for “Zoo.” The film stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in the story of a man who moves his family to the rural confines of Southern California to renovate a failing zoo.

The trailer’s below. It has all of the elements we’ve come to want in a Crowe film, from an endearing lead character with adorable kids to the perfectly selected Tom Petty track “Don’t Come Around Here No More” as his music bed. Can “We Bought a Zoo” find its way into the Oscar race? Is it even an awards film, or just a crowd-pleaser from a gifted storyteller who has shown over the years that he’s capable of spinning a winning tale?

“Zoo” opens everywhere on Dec. 23.


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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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