Three Awards Hopefuls -- 'Another Year,' 'Biutiful' and 'Blue Valentine' -- Hit Theaters Wednesday


Studios look to generate buzz just as Oscar nomination ballots show up in voters' mailboxes.

Just as Oscar ballots were sent out, the final three awards contenders are prepping to open in theaters Wednesday -- Another Year, Biutiful and Blue Valentine, although Biutiful plays only in a one-week qualifying run.

Sony Pictures Classics' Another Year, written and directed by British indie darling Mike Leigh, opens in six theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The film stars Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen and Lesley Manville.

The Weinstein Co. launches Blue Valentine in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The drama, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, made headlines for earning an NC-17 rating for explicit sexual scenes, but Harvey Weinstein personally appealed the rating and won. Blue Valentine, directed by Derek Cianfrance, goes out with an R.

Roadside Attractions' Biutiful plays in one theater in New York and one in Los Angeles. Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the film stars Javier Bardem. It officially opens in a limited run Jan. 28.

After a long downturn in the indie market, business has been picking up. Two films enjoying notable success at the holiday box office are Black Swan and The Fighter.

Blue Valentine in particular hopes to parlay the attention it has gotten because of the ratings dust-up into heightened business.

Over the long Christmas weekend, Focus Features' Somewhere, directed by Sofia Coppola, got off to a solid start for a pure art house play.

Struggling, however, is Lionsgate's awards contender Rabbit Hole, starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. Part of the issue could be the short window in which Lionsgate had to market the film, which the company acquired in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.