Well, it's officially autumn in the nrothern hemisphere. Ignore the changing colours of the trees outside, and the piles of leaves that have suddenly appeared everywhere. You can even ignore the rain, the cold and the occasional frost - or ice storm, as they like to call it in parts of America. Nope, the proof that autumn has arrived north of the equator can be found at the US box office. Suddenly, quality is back in fashion as studios and indies start unleashing their Oscar-bait candidates for 2006.
Martin Scorcese's The Departed is already attracting critical raves and the biggest audience yet for one of his films, a double-header that will stand the acclaimed helmer in good stead come nominations time. This weekend just gone two more films were released with at least one eye firmly directed towards snaffling a little golden statuette or two. Clint Eastwood's Flag of Our Fathers was looking a strong contender, though there's some grumbles about the lack of black soldiers visible in the WWII drama about the battle for Iwo Jima and its aftermath.
Winning the box office battle was Christopher Nolan's new effort, The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, the inevitable Scarlett Johansson and, rather wonderfully, David Bowie. I doubt The Prestige will win that many awards but wouldn't it be a delight if Bowie got an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor? I know, I know, it's not going to happen, but Prince has got an Oscar, so I think Bowie should have one too.
While there's no shortage of contenders still to see the light of day, I confidently predict Meryl Streep will get a nomination for The Devil Wears Prada - good roles for woman are always too few and far between in Hollywood films. I've got my fingers crossed Caine might sneak a best supporting actor for one his turns this year, possible Children of Men, but that's more of a longshot. The sentamentalist in me wants Sylvester Stallone to get a nomination for Rocky Balboa but, let's face it, that's not going to happen. Such is life.
In other news, HBO has ordered twelve episodes of the new show by Deadwood creator David Milch. John From Cincinnati is described as a 'surf noir family drama' and no, I have no idea what that means either. Surf noir? The mind boggles. Can we expect people to hang ten on a set of venetian blinds? Anyways, production starts next month for a premiere in summer 2007.
Milch is also writing two made for TV movies that will wrap up the Deadwood series. All the cast have been released from contractual obligations, so it remains to be seen how many will be back for the finale. Still, watching the last few episodes of The West Wing over the weekend, it was amazing how many of the cast from the previous seven years were lured back - even creator Aaron Sorkin, who left the show under a cloud after season four made a cameo appearance. Let's hope the end of Deadwood is just as good, if not better.