We have just completed the first season, the Early Festivals and Junk season, during which there are few bright spots at the box office (at least in English), but Sundance and Cannes whet our appetite for what is to come. Although it really feels like we haven't learned much this year.
Beasts of the Southern Wild seems like the breakout star of the early festivals, but it still might be too small to last the year, especially releasing as early as June. Of course, this is the same thing that people said about The Hurt Locker a few years back, so we'll see. Six Sessions (formerly The Surrogate) also met with enthusiastic praise, although at this point it seems a stronger contender in the lead acting races than in Best Picture. Michael Haneke's film Amour seems universally loved enough that it could easily break out of the Foreign Film race in some way, where it must currently be considered the front runner. There also seems to be a lot of love floating around for Marion Cotillard and her performance in Rust and Bone. Then there are several films with enough critical praise to MAYBE be contenders: Moonrise Kingdom, Lawless, Killing Them Softly, and Mud. Most of this year's best bets by the numbers are still total unknowns.
The new season we are entering is the summer tent pole season, filled with blockbusters galore. At the least, we should be seeing several films that will be major contenders in some of the craft categories. If summer is a bit more fruitful, we'll see something like Inception. Prometheus could fit the bill (although the earliest reviews are a little damning with faint praise). So could The Dark Knight Rises. We'll just have to wait and see. Tent pole season runs into late summer.
It is followed, and overlapped a little, by the Fall Film Festival season. MANY more serious contenders will be previewed by critics and industry professionals at festivals like Toronto, Venice, and Telluride. Early hopeful contenders will also start to appear at the box office, much like Moneyball and Ides of March did last year.
The final phase, which start around Thanksgiving and runs to Oscar night, is Awards Season. The heavy hitters will hit theaters in full force and we'll finally know what exceeds expectations, and what falls flat. By December, awards groups and critics circles will begin spewing out nominations and winners with gale force. Then the Guilds. Then the Oscars.
At the turning of the season, it is time for me to review and analyze the current buzz, and, yes, make some predictions. Look for that to start tomorrow with a simple list of the current buzz, My analysis and hops of faith will follow. Here we go...