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Buzz-worthy Oscar bait

Could Brad Pitt nab a golden statuette? Will Halle Berry and Charlize Theron get back on track?
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There are some movies that feel like they were made just to win an Oscar. There’s a whiff about them — a hyper seriousness that cannot be denied. Much as the award season presents its own set of annoyances (like all the darn statues that are handed out) at least there’s a chance that a really good, and yes, important film will be heading your way. Beware of the pretentious and overwrought, but embrace the inspired. Let’s hope this year’s potential Oscar contenders raise the bar for filmmaking.

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Renner, Paul Schneider, Sam Rockwell, Zooey DeschanelDirector: Andrew DominikStory: Based on the acclaimed novel by Ron Hansen, this film tells the story of the James gang’s internal struggles when Jesse James (Pitt) gains notoriety. Little does Jesse realize that one of his own men, Robert Ford (Affleck), has grown increasingly resentful. The James gang consists of James, Ford, Frank James (Shepard), Charley Ford (Rockwell) and Wood Hite (Renner).Buzz: Director Dominik (“Chopper”) has assembled a stellar cast for this one, but there has been some controversy. According to the Los Angeles Times, the studio wasn’t happy with a three-plus-hour run time and the film’s rather somber tone. Dominik reportedly wanted a Terrence Malick-style (“The Thin Red Line”) film, while the studio was looking for more action. A couple more versions of the film were reportedly produced with Ridley Scott (“Gladiator”) overseeing the new cuts. It’s unclear which version will be released to the public. But don’t discount this one yet; contemplative Westerns have broken through at Oscar time before (“Unforgiven”). Web site: date: Sept. 21

Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly in \"Reservation Road.\"
Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly in \"Reservation Road.\"