Oscar-worthy films to look for this fall

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By Tressa Eckerman, Senior Staff Writer

The mind-numbing summer movie season is finally, mercifully, coming to an end and, as any award show junkie can tell you, fall ushers in the season of Oscar contenders. Here’s a list for the following months of all the movies that could be named big winners in next year’s award show circuit. Keep in mind that films like “The Tree of Life” and “The Devil’s Double” are also contenders, even though they’ve been released early.

August

“The Help”

Emma Stone and Viola Davis are already getting Oscar buzz for this heartfelt 1960s-set film about racism in the south, and a group of women brave enough to talk about it.

September

“Tinker, Tailor, Solider Spy”

One of the most hotly anticipated films this year could be one of the biggest winners on this year’s award show circuit. Based on a John Le Carre Cold War spy novel, the stellar cast includes Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, John Hurt and the always extraordinary Gary Oldman in a starring role that will hopefully garner him his first Oscar.

“A Dangerous Method”

Co-starring Viggo Mortenson and Michael Fassbender and directed by David Cronenberg, this period piece looks equal parts disturbing and hauntingly beautiful. This is a contender for the big awards like director, best picture and best actor/actress.

“Contagion”

Only Steven Soderberg could put together a cast that includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburn in a film about a deadly virus that spreads rapidly across the world.

“Drive”

Ryan Gosling stars in this crime thriller that was a major hit at the Cannes Film Festival. If the academy can get past the silly title, this unique little movie could be a contender.

“Straw Dogs”

This remake of the brilliant 70s film starring Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard and James Marsden looks just as moody and disturbing as the original. It could be a contender in the Supporting Actor category for Skarsgard if the Academy can get past the horrifying premise.

“Moneyball”

This year’s “The Blind Side,” that’s actually, you know, good. It could finally be the project that wins Brad Pitt the Oscar he should have won years ago for “12 Monkeys.” Also starring in this film is the always welcome and reliable Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who could receive his second Oscar, this time for a supporting category.

“50/50 “

An Oscar long shot, this black comedy, about a young man stricken with cancer, and how he deals with it is notable because of indie darling Joseph Gordon Levitt’s heartfelt performance.

 

“Take Shelter”

Michael Shannon makes a play for a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar in this film about how a family deals with their father’s possible mental illness.

October

“The Ides of March”

George Clooney directs and stars in this political thriller with Ryan Gosling. Clooney’s first directorial effort was the brilliant “Good Night and Good Luck,” and this looks like a prime Oscar candidate.

“The Rum Diary”

This film is probably a complete long shot for Oscar season, except for the fact that in the last few years Johnny Depp has become Oscar’s golden boy. Plus, Hunter S. Thompson fans have been waiting years for this adaptation.

November

“My Week with Marilyn”

The academy loves when an actor completely immerses in a role, and the exceptionally talented Michelle Williams does just that. Taking on the role of the legendary Marilyn Monroe could win her a Best Actress award.

“Melancholia”

This end of the world at a stately English manner was a hit at Cannes this year, winning Kirsten Dunst the Best Actress award. Also starring Stellan Skarsgard and Kiefer Sutherland, this Lars Van Trier directed film is a long shot for best picture because it’s too art house and because of Van Trier’s controversial comments at Cannes.

**To note: Some films with an unannounced released date that could also be contenders include the Sundance smash hit “Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene” and the Alexander Payne directed George Clooney vehicle “The Descendents.” The Roman Polanski directed “Carnage,” co-starring Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly is also Oscar material.

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