2011 Oscar predictions

Is it too early to pick contenders for the 2011 Oscars?

"127 Hours"
Director Danny Boyle and writer Simon Beaufoy's first film since sweeping the 2009 Oscars with "Slumdog Millionaire," this true-life story of a mountain climber who becomes stuck in the wilderness must be considered an early contender. Star James Franco only adds to its awards pedigree. (Fox Searchlight, date unscheduled)


Director Clint Eastwood has struck out with the Academy two years in a row, but this sprawling supernatural drama about the impact of death on three diverse characters (including Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard) should put him in the running again. (Warner Bros., December)

The film's July release date is meant to replicate the commercial success of director Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." But if this Leonardo DiCaprio psychological thriller pleases critics, it could give Nolan the best picture nomination that Batman failed to deliver. (Warner Bros., July)

"The Kids Are All Right"
This sperm donor dramedy, a Sundance breakout, was snapped up by awards pro Focus Features, which should be able to orchestrate a strong campaign around stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, as well as co-writer/director Lisa Cholodenko's sharp script. (Focus Features, unscheduled)

"True Grit"

The Coen brothers are Oscar magnets on their own. But teaming with prestige producers Scott Rudin and Steven Spielberg and stars Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon on this remake of the 1969 John Wayne Western will all but guarantee awards talk -- and comparisons to 2008 best picture winner "No Country for Old Men." (Paramount, December)
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