There are two Hollywoods: the one that tries to make a mint most of the year and the one that finances a few solid, indie-minded pictures with eyes for an Academy Award. These films are their own little genre, with edifying scenarios, upmarket stars and gentleman directors. It's called pedigree, dahling, and movies that have it will be early favorites for Oscar 2008.
Nothing impresses the Academy like royalty, as Helen Mirren proved with her Best Actress role in The Queen. Cate Blanchett will try to make that two in a row by playing QEI in The Golden Age (Oct. 5), a sequel to her Elizabeth (seven nominations) of 1998.
But the big theme for the year-end prestige films looks to be Stars over Iraq. In The Kingdom, FBI commandos Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jennifer Garner track terrorists through the Middle East. Lions for Lambs convenes a Congressman (Tom Cruise), a reporter (Meryl Streep) and an academic (Robert Redford, who also directs) to investigate an Iraq war incident. Then there's Charlie Wilson's War, about the Texan who helped defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. Mike Nichols directs Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman already that's 14 Oscar noms and five wins. Add a script by Aaron (The West Wing) Sorkin based on a true-life book by 60 Minutes' George Crile. This film would have to be Ishtar to tank.
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