Oscar prognosticators, get out your scorecards and call your bookies, because there may be some adjustments to make on your betting slips.
As Venice and TIFF have unveiled the bulk of their lineups, there has been one glaring omission: Clint Eastwood's biopic "J. Edgar." Already primed with an awards season release and red carpet-ready cast, the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer seemed a no brainer for the festival circuit, but it looks like just making its release date is going to be a challenge. Peter Howell of The Toronto Star blogged yesterday that the film would be skipping both Toronto and New York in a move that made it seem like it was forgoing the festival run completely -- but not so far. According to sources who reached out to Anne Thompson, the simple fact of the matter is that Eastwood is still editing the picture -- no surprise given it did most of its filming in February and March of this year. But if he can wrap it up in time, a screening at the London Film Festival which runs from October 13th to 28th isn't out of the question. So how does this change the film's Oscar prospects? It doesn't really. Until somebody sees the film its potential remains the same.
However, one film you are going to have to remove from your ballot this year is John Madden's "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." The film, which we pegged as a potential dark horse contender is being prepped for release in the first quarter of 2012, according to Anne Thompson. We'd wager this means Fox Searchlight is putting their awards season efforts this year on "The Descendants" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (though we hope there is also a push for "Win Win" as well).
'Exotic Hotel' is based on a British best-seller from “Tulip Fever” author and “Pride & Prejudice” screenwriter Deborah Moggach, and boasts a cast full of awards favorites including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and, representing the younger generation, “Slumdog Millionaire” star Dev Patel. With the story centering around a retirement home in India, it has the ingredients to be a crowd pleaser, and the arthouse shingle will surely be looking to replicate the success of other spring releases in the past like "The Namesake."
So just a bit of a shakeup before things really get moving at Venice and TIFF, and the reviews start pouring out. There's still lots of time for frontrunners to fall off and surprise films to take the lead.