127 Hours
Danny Boyle
James Franco, Kate Mara
Danny Boyle’s follow-up to “Slumdog Millionaire” sounds like a harrowing survival tale. We’re anxious to see it.
Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky
Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis
Darren Aronofsky’s ballet drama – said to be a spiritual companion piece to his Oscar-winning “The Wrestler” – was the talk of The Lido at the Venice Film Festival. Expect that positive buzz to continue as the film screens in Toronto and beyond.
The Fighter
David O. Russell
Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo
Forget the Will Ferrell comedies. We prefer to see Mark Wahlberg focused, intense, and pounding some mutts skull in. Thankfully, “The Boxer” should scratch that itch, Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams explore the early career of boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward, who rose to prominence in the 1980s. I wish “Fighter” was punching its way through the fall festival circuit, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until December to see David O. Russell’s first film since “I Heart Huckabees” (2004).
Clint Eastwood
Matt Damon
Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon couldn’t get “Invictus” into last year’s Best Picture race, but a supernatural romance penned by Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon”) seems like it might have more pull with the Academy. We’ll know a lot more next week when “Hereafter” world premieres in Toronto.
Christopher Nolan
Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard
Some argue the Academy expanded the Best Picture field from 5 to 10 in response to the outrage over “The Dark Knight’s” snub. Whether that’s true or not, I still think “Inception” gets in. It has been critically praised, it has the box office support, DiCaprio is a respected talent, and … yes … Chris Nolan deserves a “sorry we missed you” nom.
The Kids Are All Right
Lisa Cholodenko
Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska
This year’s most rewarding indie boasts a killer ensemble gently dissecting a topical relationship dilemma. We should see plenty of acting nominations attached to “Kids,” as well.
The King's Speech
Tom Hooper
Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter
Colin Firth as a stuttering King George VI, under the direction of Tom Hooper (“The Damned United”). Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon and Geoffrey Rush co-star, among others.
The Social Network
David Fincher
Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Justin Timberlake
David Fincher working from an Aaron Sorkin screenplay about the rise of Facebook, a Web site we’re all obsessed with? Sounds like a slam dunk. Scott Foundas also recently described it as “big, brash and brilliant.” Can’t wait to see for myself.
Toy Story 3
Lee Unkrich
Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
The best film of the year, animated or otherwise, deserves a spot at the table. I even think it has a shot to be the first animated picture to win Best Picture.
True Grit
Joel/Ethan Coen
Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges
After flexing their funny bones with “Burn After Reading,” the Coen Brothers remake a legendary western with a brilliant ensemble. This could walk the same line as their Oscar-winning “No Country for Old Men.”