Oscar pundits in our forums back 'Ides of March' and 'War Horse'
Early Oscar prognostication is heating up on our message boards. According to our commenters, these are front-runners for best picture and other top trophies:
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close": This might be the ultimate Oscar-friendly film. Director Stephen Daldry has been Oscar-nominated for every one of his films ("Billy Elliot," "The Hours," "The Reader"). It's written by Eric Roth, who penned best picture nominees "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Munich," "The Insider" and best picture winner "Forrest Gump." Its cast is led by Oscar champs Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Its subject matter is timely and topical: A boy copes with his father's death on 9/11.
"The Ides of March": George Clooney directs his first collaboration with co-writer Grant Heslov since "Good Night and Good Luck." Viewing a presidential race from the point of view of campaign strategists, it could be well-timed, coming just as the 2012 presidential race begins in earnest, and it boasts an all-star cast including Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
"J. Edgar": Clint Eastwood failed to get Oscar's attention last year with his supernatural drama "Hereafter," but his chances are probably much better this year. The academy loves a good biopic, and Eastwood has got a juicy subject: Longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Add an Oscar-winning screenwriter ("Milk's" Dustin Lance Black) and three-time nominee Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role.
"War Horse": Steven Spielberg directing a film about war can never be underestimated. He won for directing both "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" in the 1990s. This time he turns his focus on World War I and the relationship between a young man and his beloved horse. Oscar-nomineee Emily Watson costars, and the script is by Oscar nominees Richard Curtis ("Four Weddings and a Funeral") and Lee Hall ("Billy Elliot"). The Broadway stage version just won best play at the Tony Awards.
"Young Adult": Jason Reitman's last two films, "Juno" and "Up in the Air," both earned nominations for best picture and director. In "Young Adult," he's rejoined by Oscar-winning "Juno" writer Diablo Cody to tell the story of a fiction writer returning to her small-town home after a divorce. The film stars Oscar winner Charlize Theron.
— Tom O'Neil
Photo: Jeremy Irvine gets direction from Steven Spielberg in "War Horse." Credit: DreamWorks.