By Joshua Madden
If you’re like me, then you know that it’s never too early to start talking about what films could potentially garner some Oscar nominations at this year’s Academy Awards.
While a large number of the “buzz-worthy” films are not out yet, there have been quite a few films that could earn some nominations that have already been released.
In no particular order, here are some of my picks for films to watch out for during this year’s awards season:
There are a lot of reasons to like the odds for “The Debt” garnering some kind of nomination this year, but the most notable reason is both Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain gave quality performances.
Even in a stronger year I would probably be picking out Chastain as a likely supporting actress nominee, but given how weak the field is this year in terms of supporting actress performances, I see her performance as being a difficult one to ignore.
Worthington is more of a long shot, but this film gave him a chance to show more of his talent than he revealed in “Avatar,” so it’s certainly possibly the Academy will reward him.
Of the films released so far this year, I don’t think that any are more likely to get a ton of nominations than “Contagion.”
There’s no way around director, picture and original screenplay. “Contagion” should easily get nominations for all of these given Steven Soderbergh’s reputation.
Scott Z. Burns’ screenplay seems like the heavy favorite to win original screenplay this year. I struggle to see anyone else who has a shot at knocking him off.
In terms of acting, Jennifer Ehle had what was arguably the film’s major breakout performance and it seems like the Academy may have trouble finding a reason not to nominate her for supporting actress.
That all being said, I think “Contagion” is likely to pull in at least one nomination for supporting actor, if not more. Laurence Fishburne’s performance as a morally conflicted high-level doctor at the CDC seems like a likely nomination.
Jude Law’s turn as a swarmy, unlikable blogger who seeks to take advantage of the situation caused by the epidemic also seems like a possible nomination.
Finally, even though he is admittedly a long shot, Elliot Gould’s performance as a biochemical researcher was so against type and well done that the Academy should seriously consider nominating him as well.
Much like “Contagion,” “Drive” seems as if it has already been nominated for director, picture and screenplay.
As “Drive” was adapted from James Sallis’ novel of the same name, Hossein Amini’s screenplay won’t have to compete with “Contagion” since “Contagion” was original while “Drive” is adapted. It wouldn’t surprise me if these two films were the ones that carried home the screenplay awards this year.
All signs point to this being Ryan Gosling’s year. His performance in “Drive” was excellent and with a widely praised supporting turn in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” and the upcoming release of “The Ides of March,” it seems incredibly likely that he will be nominated for something this year.
Given how good he was in “Drive,” however, he will likely get nominated for it barring an incredible performance in ‘The Ides of March.’
Albert Brooks’ portrayal of the villain Bernie Rose in the film will also likely get some attention. It’s a very different role for him than what we might expect, so the Academy will probably reward him for showing some range.