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Oscar Watching: A Smaller Best Actress Race

Perhaps the most notable news of the week came on Monday, when The Weinstein Co. announced that Grace of Monaco will debut in theaters next year. Originally planned for release on Nov. 27, the Nicole Kidman-led biopic needs more time for completion and will hit theaters next spring as a commercial film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. TWC also pushed James Gray’s The Immigrant, led by Marion Cotillard, to next year. The moves make sense considering Harvey boasts an overabundance of contenders in his 2013 slate. For what it’s worth, we might see Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street bumped to next year, too.

Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood notes that Roadside Attractions made copies of Jeff NicholsMud available to Oscar voters, making the indie the first screener of the 2013 season. This strategy helped Frozen River, which nabbed a best actress and original screenplay nominee in 2008, and A Better Life, which earned a best actor nominee in 2011, score attention, but did little for The Intouchables, a Golden Globe nominee last year but a non-starter at the Oscars. If nothing else, expect the film to contend for an original screenplay nomination.

Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners took over a weak box office this weekend with $20.8 million. Ron Howard’s Rush debuted in five locations with $187,289. That’s not bad, but it should have performed better given the awards hype and strong critical reception. Surprisingly, Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said fared better with the biggest per-screen average of the weekend, $232,800 from four locations. Maybe James Gandolfini snags a posthumous spot in the developing best supporting actor race.

The Hollywood Film Festival, known more for hyping potential Oscar contenders than for actual prestige, announced that Gravity lead Sandra Bullock and Prisoners star Jake Gyllenhaal will receive their best actress and supporting actor awards, respectively. Harrison Ford will win the fest’s lifetime achievement honor.

These wins can’t hurt their awards campaigns, but this fest is known more for hyping potential Oscar contenders than for actual prestige. Cotillard won the fest’s best actress award in 2007 and won the Oscar, but also took home this prize last year and missed out an Oscar nod. Other winners without an eventual Oscar bid include Kristin Scott Thomas in 2008 and Hilary Swank in 2008. The fest’s two previous supporting actor winners, Robert De Niro and Christopher Plummer, earned Oscar nods, but their winners also include Oscar-snubbed Matthew Broderick in 2005, Ben Affleck in 2006, and John Travolta in 2007.

Meanwhile, Ford becomes only twelfth winner of the lifetime award since 1997. (Regarding its lifetime achievement prizes, the fest sometimes skips years.) The only two winners who reaped Oscar bids the same awards season are Diane Keaton in 2005 and Glenn Close in 2011. Still, Ford picked up raves for his supporting turn in 42. He also stars in Gavin Hood’s upcoming adaptation of Ender’s Game. Perhaps one of those films leads to a second Oscar nomination.

Looking ahead, the New York Film Festival kicks off with Paul GreengrassCaptain Phillips on Friday, Sept. 27. Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty premieres as the centerpiece gala selection, while Spike Jonze’s Her closes the fest. Already-screened contenders playing at NYFF include All is Lost, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Inside Llewyn Davis. The fest will tribute Cate Blanchett next week. This and her on-stage conversation can only help her campaign for Blue Jasmine.

This weekend sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut Don Jon and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 hitting theaters. The less-than-enthusiastic critical response likely restricts the former to contending for Golden Globes in the comedy or musical categories, but Scarlett Johansson might factor into the supporting actress race. The season might ignore Cloudy considering its predecessor’s lack of awards presence. (And I’m certain every movie with a “There’s a leek in the boat” joke is an awards non-starter.) Also, the Paula Patton-led Baggage Claim arrives this weekend. I doubt that one gets anywhere this season, but Hollywood will give Patton a vehicle at some point, right?

Check out this week’s predictions on the next page, and feel free to chime in with a comment.

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Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.