The Academy Awards may be five months away (136 days for those counting), but movie buffs are already buzzing, and tweeting, their early Oscar predictions.
And with 2010 introducing a new era of 10 Best Picture nominees -- as opposed to the standard five -- there are even more open spots to buzz and tweet about.
One film with chips stacked in its corner is Clint Eastwood’s "Invictus." The Best Picture hopeful, slated for a December release, examines Nelson Mandela’s first term as president when he rallied support to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Morgan Freeman plays Mandela and is a sure-shot for a Best Actor nod, as is Matt Damon for his supporting role as rugby champion Francois Pienaar.
If film festival honorees are any indication of what to expect on Oscar night, Lee Daniels’ “Precious” may garner several statues. The feature, based on the novel “Push,” follows an illiterate, overweight, poverty stricken teen as she copes with an abusive mother and a history of rape.
“Precious” has already taken top honors at the Sundance and Toronto International Film Festivals, and its leading ladies Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe are receiving heavy praise. If positive word of mouth isn't enough, industry titans Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry have signed on as executive producers to ensure this indie juggernaut gets its chance to shine.
Speaking of indie standouts, Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” has been generating buzz since hitting theaters in July. The gritty action-drama about an Army bomb squad is off to a promising start — on Monday it led the pack of Gotham Independent Film nominations with nods for Best Feature, Best Actor and Best Ensemble Performance.
In addition to projected first-time nominees, including Carey Mulligan’s lead actress performance in “An Education,” several Oscar veterans are likely to return to the Kodak Theatre on March 7, 2010.
Previous winners George Clooney (“Up in the Air”) and Daniel Day-Lewis (“Nine”) are frontrunners for a Best Actor nod. Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”), Hilary Swank (“Amelia”) and Judi Dench (“Nine”) are also vying for another golden man to place on their mantle. Then we have the dark horses -- which with ten Best Picture nods, don’t seem so dark anymore. “Up,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Away We Go” and “Avatar” are just a few of the underdogs that may make their way onto the ballot.
This is just the initial buzz. Expect Oscar talk to heat up as studios continue to churn out their most promising award hopefuls, such as Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones” and Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers,” and campaign for Oscar gold.
And let’s not forget the razzle-dazzle of A-listers hitting countless red carpets leading up to Hollywood’s biggest night. The Golden Globes, the SAGs, The Independent Spirits, the Critic’s Choice… let the award season begin.
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