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“The Help” earns Ensemble Award at 15th annual Hollywood Film Awards – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Rarely is there a “lock” during the lengthy Oscar season. Films and performances that appear to be frontrunners in the marathon run toward Oscar nominations falter and fade, while other films that had precious little buzz upon release find waves of support when it matters, and ride that momentum to multiple nominations.

That being said, I’d be surprised in Tate Taylor’s blockbuster summer dramedy, “The Help,” found itself shut out of the Oscar race altogether when nominations are announced early next year. Taylor’s adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel has so many checks in its “Win” column – from boffo box office ($147 million domestically and counting) to outstanding performances by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone – that one could see why it’s the closest thing to an Oscar lock that we’ve seen this season.

This morning, “The Help” received the first of what should be several nods for its accomplishments, winning this year’s Hollywood Ensemble Acting Award at the 15th annual Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Film Awards. The annual event, hosted by HollywoodNews.com’s parent company, is presented by Starz. It’s widely considered the first awards show of the Oscar season.

Carlos de Abreu, the Founder and Executive Director of the event, says Stone, Davis and Spencer are expected to attend the Oct. 24 event, along with Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Chris Lowell, Ahna O’Reilly, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Cicely Tyson, and Mike Vogel.

An Ensemble award eliminates the difficult decision of singling out one performance from Taylor’s fine cast. Last year, the cast of David Fincher’s “The Social Network” – an eventual Best Picture nominee – was recognized in this category.

The 2011 Hollywood Film Festival has announced they will also honor Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, Editor Stephen Mirrione, Production Designer James Murakami and Visual Effects Supervisor Scott Farrar at their annual Awards Gala. Gore Verbinski’s “Rango” will also be honored at the Hollywood Film Awards Gala Ceremony.

This year’s event will be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. De Abreu says more winners will be revealed in the coming weeks.

For complete Oscar and Film Festival coverage, visit our Awards Alley for the latest news items, reviews and interviews all season long.

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