The Help is probably the first genuine awards contender I've seen in 2011. While most of the likely nominees and critical darlings are released in the winter months leading up to award season, there are always a few that come out during the summer, hidden among the explosive action films and kooky comedies. There are some every year, with Inception, The Hurt Locker and Little Miss Sunshine perhaps the best examples from the past few years. I've actually been surprised not to have come upon a similar contender earlier in 2011, a year not lacking in good films but in stellar ones. Before the release of this review, my Top 10 list had only one title from the entire year (J.J. Abram's Super 8) with realistic potential for a Best Picture nomination, while several great films (Hanna, Win Win, Midnight in Paris) will likely go unrecognized. The Help won't. It's got all the trappings - I mean strengths - that make it an ideal contender: an all-star cast playing strong characters; an easily recognizable and culturally important dichotomy of racism in the Old South; and most importantly, the story is based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett and directed by the author's childhood friend. At the very least, it wants to be the audience darling of 2011, and my trusty cinema sidekick Anne and I caught this latest piece before I would move back to the more typical summer fare of Conan the Barbarian, Fright Night and Final Destination V.
|Move over, Skeeter; there can be only one Mr. Anderson!|
|Oh, my, is that a Best Supporting Actress nomination you see?|
|Bargain hunting is a much more dangerous sport in Jackson|
|Sissy Spacek is still good! Who knew?|