Award season is heating up in Hollywood, with Up In The Air already taking Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress from the National Board Of Review. Here are ten films films we expect to hear come up a lot this winter, as more cinema societies name their top movies of the 2009. Don’t forget—we’ve still got the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, the Golden Globes and the Oscars to look forward to on TV. [Photo: Paramount Pictures]
Movies directed by Jim Sheridan—that don’t star 50 Cent—have a tendency to snag award nominations for their actors. And Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman could each win their first major trophy for appearing in his Iraq war love triangle film. (Related: Natalie Portman Goes Blue For Brothers)
- An Education
Though there are plenty of fussy European period pieces looking for award show love this year (Bright Star, The Last Station, The Young Victoria), one of the most promising is only (only!) set about forty plus years ago. Star Carey Mulligan has already won a Hollywood Award for her portrayal of a schoolgirl swept away by an older man of questionable ethics.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
While Up looked like a sure bet for any and all animation trophies when it blew up the box office this summer, Wes Anderson‘s star-studded stop-motion effort could steal Pixar’s thunder come Oscar season. (Related: George Clooney, Elisabetta Canalis Show Off For Fantastic Mr. Fox Premiere)
- The Hurt Locker
Though low on star power, The Hurt Locker has already succeeded critically where earlier Iraq war films have failed (anyone remember Rendition, In The Valley Of Elah or Lions For Lambs)? This intense story of a U.S. army bomb squad has already won laurels for director Kathryn Bigelow, who could wind up the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director.
- Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino hasn’t had much reason to award shows since Pulp Fiction, but his bombastic World War II revenge fantasy looks set to turn that around, with Christoph Waltz already taking Best Actor at Cannes for the nefarious Col. Landa. (Related: Angelina Jolie Shows Some Leg At Basterds Premiere)
When Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman first teamed up for Unforgiven, the film took home four Oscars, including Best Picture. When they met again for Million Dollar Baby, the film took home four Oscars, including Best Picture. This time the subject is Nelson Mandela. Do the math. You know Matt Damon did. (Related: Brad & Angie Take Maddox To Invictus Premiere)
The financially beleaguered Weinstein brothers are trying to make lightning strike twice with this big-budget production, teaming the director of Chicago (their last Best Picture winner) with Daniel Day-Lewis (their first Best Actor winner) and a bevvy of attractive women against a gorgeous Italian backdrop. If this doesn’t score them a comeback, nothing will. (Related: Dancing Boys & Glamour Girls At Nine Premiere)
This harrowing urban nightmare is the year’s biggest source of left-field award hopefuls, from unknowns like Gabby Sidibe and unheralded actresses like Mo’Nique and Mariah Carey. (Related: Mariah Carey Wins A Breakthrough Performance Award)
- A Serious Man
Joel & Ethan Coen followed their award-grabber No Country For Old Men with the star-studded Burn After Reading, giving them the chance to make this difficult, awkward tale of a ’60s suburban Job. Will this labor of (cruel) love bring them back to the podium?
- Up In The Air
Already having swept the National Board Of Review, Up In The Air may be the film to beat this season. With Geogre Clooney and Juno director Jason Reitman teaming to tackle the world of corporate downsizing, the zeitgest doesn’t get any more tapped than this. (Related: George Clooney Brings Girlfriend, Mother To Up In The Air Premiere)