Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush at the AFI Fest screening of "The King's Speech"

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush at the AFI Fest screening of "The King's Speech" last week in Los Angeles.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Contender Countdown: Who will mount a challenge to 'King's Speech' and 'Social Network'?

Are there really any surprise challengers left?

It's the second week in November and the best picture field is already starting to solidify itself.  Barring a stunning reception for James L. Brooks' "How Do You Know," a critic's group lovefest for "I Am Love" or an unexpected holiday flick wooing the country and industry, the players are pretty much set.  "The King's Speech," "The Social Network," "Inception" and "Toy Story 3" are all considered locks for a nomination by every consultant in town with "Speech" and "Network" seemingly battling it out for the win (at least at this date).  All the other contenders are in flux, but that could change by Christmas.

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Amy Adams in "The FIghter"

Amy Adams in David O.Russell's "The Fighter."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Amy Adams is the big surprise in legit Oscar contender 'The Fighter'

Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg also shine in David O. Russell's commercial comeback

David O. Russell's "The Fighter" made its debut as a not-so secret screening as part of AFI Fest 2010 tonight and the awards season contender came out swinging.  Playing incredibly well to the packed Mann Grauman's Chinese Theater audience, the Paramount and Relativity Media picture proved it has the chance to be a big crowd pleaser and substantial box office hit.  Oh, and as suspected, it's a legitimate Oscar player.

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<p>Robert De Niro is joining some pretty select company by receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award.</p>

Robert De Niro is joining some pretty select company by receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar Watch: Robert De Niro will receive the Golden Globes' Cecil B. DeMille Award

Plus: 'Tron Legacy' goes to Dubai and more

Robert De Niro is the latest recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's life time achievement award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The actor, filmmaker and film festival pioneer will be saluted during the 68th Golden Globes Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011.  For the second year in a row, the Globes will be broadcast live at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST on NBC.

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Aron Ralston, Danny Boyle, James Franco at the 127 Hours London Film Festival screening

Aron Ralston, Danny Boyle and James Franco at the screening of "127 Hours" at the London Film Festival last month.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Audiences keep it together for '127 Hours' spectacular limited debut

Danny Boyle's latest is the second best limited opener of the year

An expected best picture contender after its critically acclaimed reception at this Fall's Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, competing studios have been salivating over the continuing stories regarding fainting spells or attacks during public screenings of Danny Boyle's latest.  You see, nothing will scare off older academy members from even watching your movie than the thought of possibly dying while watching a movie.  And the subject matter, Aron Ralston's real life accident in a Utah canyon which forced him to eventually sever his own arm, can easily have any moviegoer stressed out before they sit in their seats.  For one weekend at least, Searchlight can breathe easy with some spectacular reviews and boffo limited release numbers for the uplifting drama.

Debuting in just four theaters, "127 Hours" grossed $266,000 or a superb $66,000 average.  For 2010, that's second only to "The Kids Are All Right's" $70,282 average this past summer and easily the best of Boyle's career.  At this point, the only limited openers that have a shot of besting "Kids" and "127 Hours" debuts are Searchlight's own "Black Swan," "The King's Speech" and "Rabbit Hole."

Critic's also gave their stamp of approval to "Hours" with an 84 average on Metacritic and a 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.  The picture also received individual raves from the New York Times, Time, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the LA Times and it should be a staple on may end of year top 10 lists.

As of now, there have been no reported attacks from any of the sold out screenings this weekend.  Just like there were none at the slew of critic's screenings over the past few months.  Imagine that.

"127 Hours" will expand over the coming months.  Keep yourself together and don't miss it when it comes to a theater near you.

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Mike Vogel, Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance at the AFI premiere of 'Blue Valentine'

Mike Vogel, Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance at the AFI premiere of 'Blue Valentine'

Credit: AP Photo/Dan

Revisiting Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in 'Blue Valentine'

Director Derek Cianfrance's drama is even more impressive the second time around

"Blue Valentine" had its local Los Angeles premiere Saturday night during AFI Fest 2010 to an almost packed audience at Graumann's Chinese Theater.  Having attended the world premiere of "Valentine" at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, I was curious what my reaction to the picture would be almost 10 months later. I came away even more impressed than the first time around.

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Pierce Brosnan seems like a best supporting actor contender for "The Ghost Writer"

Pierce Brosnan seems like a best supporting actor contender for "The Ghost Writer."  Can he crack the field?

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Is it too late for 'The Ghost Writer' to thrill Oscar?

Film leads 2010 European Film Award nods, but Oscar chances are slim

One the most entertaining thrillers of the year was Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer."  With strong reviews, the Summit Entertainment release battled negative publicity over Polanski's house arrest in Switzerland over a possible extradition to the United States (which never happened) to an OK $15 million at the box office in February and March.  Considering the great word of mouth, that seemed rather low, but the studio was careful not to overspend after dumping too much marketing money in "The Hurt Locker" (long before it's Oscar win) and "The Brothers Bloom" the year before.  The film seemed like the sort of smart, well-acted, pedigree thriller that could thrive during awards season.  Surprisingly though, that hasn't been the case.

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Michael Sheen at the 2010 BAFTA LA Britannia Awards

Britannia Award honoree Michael Sheen walks the red carpet before the event.

Credit: AP Photo/Mark Sales

Betty White rocks, but Michael Sheen steals the 2010 BAFTA Britannia Awards

Plus: Olivia Wilde, Jeff Bridges and an impressive Ridley and Tony Scott tribute

One of the most fun events of last year's award season was the somewhat under the radar BAFTA Britannia Awards.  In 2009, Ben Stiller gave one of the most memorable and hilarious tributes I've ever heard to recipient Robert De Niro that had the crowd, and De Niro, in hysterics.  And that didn't even take into account Stephen Fry's witty and confident hosting or the impressive line of stars who appeared to honor the prestigious organizations winners.  A year later, the show is finally getting some broadcast love from TV Guide Network in the United States and BAFTA LA chairman Nigel Lythgoe (yep, the "So You Think You Can Dance" judge) announced the show would also be seen in the UK, Europe, Latin America and parts of Southeast Asia.  And with this year's winners including Betty White, Jeff Bridges, Martin Sheen, Christopher Nolan and Ridley and Tony Scott, anticipation was high for another classy event.

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<p>Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal in &quot;Love and Other Drugs.&quot;</p>

Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Love and Other Drugs."

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are very sexy in messy 'Love and Other Drugs'

Little awards season future for Ed Zwick's latest

If you want to see a movie where Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway display enough sexual chemistry to start real life romance rumors, than "Love and Other Drugs" is for you.  If you want a movie that features a by the numbers plot with sitcom-inspired comedy situations and where you don't really care about the characters when it all comes to an end (even though one is suffering from a major disease) than "Love and Other Drugs" is also for you.  Yes, if "Drugs" sounds like a movie that's all over the place, it is.

Edward Zwick's first romantic dramedy since "About Last Night…" way back in 1986, "Drugs" finds Gyllenhaal playing Jamie, a smart, but unfocused rich kid trying to make his way in mid '90s America without the help of dear old dad.  We immediately discover Jamie's biggest asset is his confident charm and ladies man sexual libido which seems perfect for his new gig as a Pfizer pharmaceutical rep.  Eventually placed in the field somewhere in Ohio (we're never really told where) with a more experienced superior trying to get transferred back to Chicago (a misused Oliver Platt), Jamie discovers it's harder than you'd think to convince doctors to order Zoloft when their patience are in love with competitor Prozac.  Just when you think the picture is going to turn into a work place wonder, Jamie meets Maggie (Hathaway), a patient of the one hotshot doctor (Hank Azaria, also wasted) who could be his ticket to the big time. Over retread Cameron Crowe dialogue trying to be so un-cliche only these two pros can make it work, Jamie and Maggie instantly become sexual partners with no strings attached.  Of course, their sexual encounters -- which allow fans of both actors to get prime views -- lead to the expected realization that they have a deeper connection.  That's when the romantic cliches start to appear in droves. Sadly, when the movie insists on going down a dark route with Maggie's disease the tone really flies all over the place. And still, you know there is going to be a happy ending in there somewhere because, well, it's one of those movies.  Oh, and did we forget to mention James ends up becoming the perfect salesman for...Viagra? Well, don't worry about it, it's really not that important to the picture's plot in the long run.

One of the biggest red flags that "Drugs" is nothing more than a slick piece of commercial entertainment (not that there is anything wrong with that if it's done right) is the lame subplot centering on Jamie's brother Josh ("21's" Josh Gad).  Supposedly an IPO millionaire, he spends most of the picture sleeping on Jamie's couch after leaving his wife over marital problems.  This makes almost no sense other the than to have Gad around to provide gross out and un-funny comic relief.  Which seems obviously calculated to appeal to the few young men in the audience.

Those issues aside, "Love and Other Drugs" is not inherently a bad movie.  It's just not a very good one.  Instead it's a perfectly fine Hollywood dramedy that has been unfortunately pegged as something that could be awards worthy because of its stars and release date.  Does that mean Hathaway and Gyllenhaal or the picture can't land expected Golden Globe nods? Of course not.  Subconsciously the HFPA would like nothing better for Gyllenhaal and Hathaway's smiling faces to come walking down the show's red carpet.  Does that mean either of them will duplicate that feat at the Oscars?  Don't bet on it.

"Love and Other Drugs" opens nationwide on Nov. 24.
 

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James Franco walks the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of "127 Hours"

James Franco walks the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of "127 Hours."

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Standing ovation and another medical issue at '127 Hours' LA premiere

Plus: Check out five clips of Danny Boyle's latest triumph

This is getting a bit bizarre.  Having already attended the Telluride Film Festival premiere of "127 Hours" where it was later discovered a moviegoer had fainted during the intense drama, it's hard to describe this pundit's reaction when someone stood up and yelled "We need a medic" during the first 40 minutes of the picture's Los Angeles premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Theater.

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Kimberly Elise as Crystal in "For Colored Girls"

Kimberly Elise as Crystal in Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls."

Credit: Lionsgate

Q&A: Kimberly Elise calls 'For Colored Girls' the most emotional role of her career

Who is giving this talented actress great roles? Just Jonathan Demme and Tyler Perry

One of the most impressive and yet strikingly depressing aspects of Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls" is how the drama highlights so many great African-American actresses who, bluntly, just don't get enough quality work. 

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