"As the first half of 2010 draws to a close, serious Academy Awards contenders have yet to emerge," sighs Gregg Kilday in the Hollywood Reporter.
However, Kilday thereafter contradicts himself by citing several strong contenders already seen widely by the industry: "Toy Story 3," which "could become the first 2010 entry to make it into the circle of 10" for best picture, he says. And two breakout hits from Sundance — "Winter's Bone" ("Debra Granik's hardscrabble Ozarks-set drama") and "The Kids Are All Right" ("It's the sort of upscale crowd-pleaser that could find favor").
Plus one critically hailed entry at Cannes: Mike Leigh's "Another Year" ("slice-of-life movie about a circle of middle-aged friends").
Jeff Wells pipes in at Hollywood-Elsewhere: "The best 2010 films I've seen thus far for their own merits (i.e., forget the awards race) are Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'Biutiful' (Cannes), Doug Liman's 'Fair Game' (Cannes), Olivier Assayas' 'Carlos' (Cannes), Aaron Schneider's 'Get Low,' Noah Baumbach's 'Greenberg,' Roman Polanski's 'The Ghost Writer' and Philipp Stölzl's 'North Face.'
"The leading best picture Oscar candidates at this stage appear to be 'Inception,' 'Toy Story 3,' 'Fair Game,' 'Tree of Life,' 'Biutiful,' 'The Social Network,' 'Get Low,' 'Hereafter,' 'True Grit' and maybe 'London Boulevard.' "
Over at AwardsDaily, Sasha Stone breaks down the top contenders with strong opinions too. She downgrades "Toy Story 3" to the screenplay and sound editing race but elevates "Winter's Bone" beyond just the best actress race for Jennifer Lawrence's performance (which Wells touts as its strongest shot). Stone thinks it could land in the best picture race.
She also hypes "Fair Game," "Blue Valentine" and "Another Year" among films already seen by film critics and other industry insiders.
Photo: "Winter's Bone." Credit: Roadside Attractions