Goodbye summer, it's Oscar time. Seems like just yesterday that the "The King's Speech" took top honours, but here we are getting ready for another awards season. Expect this Oscar race to be fierce, as the number of Best Picture nominees could be anywhere between 5 and 10. Based on what's been released already, The Help, The Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris seem to be only candidates for end-of-year recognition. I've seen Midnight in Paris and I'm currently on the fence about its chances (as of October 14, I have now also seen The Help, Drive and The Tree of Life). Also, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 got some premature Oscar buzz which has virtually disappeared since its astounding front-loaded box office. Below are the 23 major players for this fall/winter season. The Best Picture nominees will come from this list, you can bet on it. It's gonna be a busy time at the movies, as there are lots more that could have been included in this list. Can't wait!
WARRIOR (Sep 9)
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton
Plot: The youngest son (Hardy) of an alcoholic former boxer (Nolte) returns home, where he's trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament -- a path that puts the fighter on a collision corner with his older brother (Edgerton).
CONTAGION (Sep 9)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow
Plot: An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.
DRIVE (Sep 16)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks
Plot: A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
MONEYBALL (Sep 23)
Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Plot: The story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.
50/50 (Sep 30)
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston
Plot: A comedic account of a 27-year-old guy's cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease.
THE IDES OF MARCH (Oct 7)
Director: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei
Plot: An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.
THE WAY (Oct 7)
Director: Emilio Estevez
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger
Plot: An American father travels to France to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling "El camino de Santiago" from France to Santiago de Compostela (Spain).
LIKE CRAZY (Oct 28)
Director: Drake Doremus
Starring: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence
Plot: A British college student falls for an American student, only to be separated from him when she's banned from the U.S. after overstaying her visa.
J. EDGAR (Nov 9)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench
Plot: As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered.
THE ARTIST (Nov 23)
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell, James Cromwell
Plot: Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.
THE DESCENDANTS (Nov 23)
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer
Plot: A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.
HUGO (Nov 23)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Jude Law, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley
Plot: Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.
A DANGEROUS METHOD (Nov 23)
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender
Plot: A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.
SHAME (Dec 2)
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale
Plot: A drama centered on 30-something Brandon, his myriad sexual escapades, and what happens when his wayward younger sister moves in with him.
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY (Dec 9)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt
Plot: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons.
YOUNG ADULT (Dec 16)
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt
Plot: Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now married with kids.
CARNAGE (Dec 16)
Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz
Plot: Tells the story of two sets of parents who decide to have a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a schoolyard brawl.
THE IRON LADY (Dec 16)
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant
Plot: A look at the life of Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with a focus on the price she paid for power.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Dec 21)
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson
Plot: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander (Mara), a young computer hacker.
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (Dec 23)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig
Plot: Tintin and his friends discover directions to a sunken ship commanded by Capt. Haddock's ancestor and go off on a treasure hunt.
WE BOUGHT A ZOO (Dec 23)
Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church
Plot: Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Dec 25)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis
Plot: A nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist, searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks.
WAR HORSE (Dec 28)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan
Plot: Follows a young man named Albert and his horse, Joey, and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War One.