Is “Contagion” an awards contender? – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell Can Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” get into the annual awards discussion? Is it even going to try?

Most of you reading probably didn’t even think that Soderbergh’s star-studded virus thriller, which opens everywhere Sept. 9, would be called a possible Oscar contender. For one, the release date’s kind of in that void between festivals. Also, it appeared to have more in common with an end-of-the-world summer blockbuster than an intelligent, art house awards aspirant.

Then the film was programmed in Venice. Then one analyst wondered if Warner Bros. was going to follow an awards blueprint laid out last year by Ben Affleck’s “The Town,” which managed an Oscar nom for Jeremy Renner. And now the film is getting very good reviews. Are the pieces falling into place for an Oscar push?

“With simmering tension and some memorable acting performances by a stellar cast, Soderbergh’s disease thriller is worth catching,” THR writes.

Then again, IndieWire writes that while good, Soderbergh’s film “felt more like a superior studio thriller than a festival awards contender.”

As we wait for the awards race to play out, with some films moving up and others falling back, will there be a spot at the table for “Contagion?” Is “The Help,” which continues to perform well at the box office, the mainstream movie of choice that gets into this year’s Best Picture race? Or will we still be talking about both come January?

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