With fall approaching it is time to start placing our bets on who 2011’s big award winners will be. The first eight months of the year have provided us with very little award-worthy cinema, but that is usually the way of it. The only film with a wide release to gain serious Oscar buzz so far is The Help. Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Jessica Chastain all turned heads with their performances, and the film’s box office success will probably serve to strengthen its awards season bid.
Speaking of Jessica Chastain, I probably shouldn’t write off The Debt or Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which both feature several respectable cast members, including Chastain. The Tree of Life won the Cannes Film Festival top award, the Palm d’Or, but has received very mixed reviews otherwise. It seems that any movie with Helen Mirren in it makes people take notice, so The Debt might get some love in the coming months.
The Venice Film Festival, which held its closing ceremonies this Saturday, offered what might be an early contender for best actor: Michael Fassbender in Shame, a movie detailing the unraveling life of a sex addict, which also stars Carey Mulligan (An Education, Never Let Me Go). Fassbender, who played Magneto in this summer’s X-Men: First Class and Rochester in the recent Jane Eyre, won the top acting prize at the festival. He will also be seen this year in A Dangerous Method playing real life psychiatrist Carl Jung, alongside Viggo Mortensen (The Road, The Lord of the Rings) playing Sigmund Freud, and Keira Knightley (The Duchess, Pirates of the Caribbean). 2011 has certainly been a busy and impressive year for Fassbender.
The Toronto International Film Festival, one of the most influential and prestigious film festivals around, is currently running. Films such as Moneyball, Faust, The Ides of March, The Descendants, Albert Nobbs, The Hunter, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and dozens of others potential winners will be shown there in the next week.
While TIFF doesn’t hand out competitive prizes, it does give the People’s Choice Award for the highest rated movie of the festival. Last year’s Oscar winner, The King’s Speech, took home the People’s Choice Award, so it’s one worth considering if you’re trying to get an early handle on who might woo the academy this year. The People’s Choice Award will be announced on September 18th.
Awards season won’t really get moving until December, but in the meantime autumn’s film festivals ought to offer us some insight into who the heavyweights will be.