Hollywood Awards List of Potential Oscar Nominees

By Sean O’Connell

HollywoodNews.com: The Academy Awards should be held in November.

Seriously. You are going to read so many columns dedicated to the annual Oscar race in September and October, you’ll think the industry’s celebration of film is imminent.

It’s not. We have a long way to go. But in early September, the marathon begins as three major festivals – Venice, Telluride, and Toronto – start hosting world premieres, luring movie buffs from all corners of the globe, and competing for industry attention with hundreds of Oscar hopefuls.

This year’s race officially began when Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” opened Venice to (mostly) raves. The process of discovering awards contenders continues through Telluride (Sept. 3-6), Toronto (Sept. 9-19), and New York (Sept. 24-Oct. 10) as audiences and Oscar pundits sail at high speeds through what we hope will be a number of awards-worthy films that open before the Academy’s December deadline.

There has been chatter, both official (in the Wall Street Journal) and unofficial (on movie-related chat boards), that 2010 has been a weak movie year. That’s nuts. I’d argue that quality exists if you know where to look. Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” challenged audiences who are used to turning off their brains in the summertime heat. “Toy Story 3” continued Pixar’s rewarding streak of emotional and technically stunning feature films. And indie darlings like “Winter’s Bone,” “Cyrus,” and “The Kids Are All Right” convinced adult audience members that things were all right at the box office, as well.

They’re about to get better. From now through December, the release schedule crowds with Oscar hopefuls vying for the attentions of Academy voters and — more importantly — movie fans. Mega-stars like Portman, Sean Penn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hilary Swank, Keira Knightley, James Franco, Matt Damon and others expect to be campaigning for top awards. We’ll have all of the news, notes, reviews, and interviews you can handle leading up to next year’s Academy Awards.

And be sure to circle Oct. 25 on your calendar, as that is when the first Awards Gala of the season, our own “Hollywood Film Festival’s Awards Gala,” attracts the top talent and the brightest stars to the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The New York Times said our fest is “the first mandatory stop … in the awards season,” while the L.A. Times calls us “a pre-Oscar showcase.”

At this stage in the game, we’ve probably seen half of the films that can be considered true contenders for next year’s Best Picture trophy. We expect to see plenty more in the coming weeks as our festival coverage ramps up. But today, we have a few lists of the pictures and talents we consider frontrunners and hopefuls. We’ll revisit the list weekly as titles eventually screen, or as news moves pictures ahead in (or out of) the Oscar race. It’s a long and exciting season. Buckle in with us and enjoy the ride.



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