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While it's early yet to consider Oscar predictions for next year, the gold-statue buzz is definitely growing around the performances of the three principals in Disney's The Help: Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Could all three actresses get Oscar nods?
Well, a surprisingly strong opening weekend of $25.5 million and generally favorable reviews certainly won't hurt. And audiences, who have given the film a rare A+ CinemaScore rating, seem to be particularly delighted with this adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's runaway New York Times best-seller, which follows a white woman who encourages a group of African-American maids in 1960s Jackson, Miss., to let her tell their stories in book form.
The Help features three standout performances: from Emma Stone, who plays Skeeter, the journalist-in-training who approaches the maids for help in her project; and two maids, the stoic Aibileen (played by Doubt Oscar nominee Viola Davis) and the sassy-mouthed Minny (played by the extraordinary Octavia Spencer who, up until now, has only had small roles in films.)
Though The Help is a story with three narrators, both Davis and Stone should be considered strong contenders for nods in the best actress category, while Spencer will probably try her chances in the supporting actress race.
Awards season hasn't really started yet, but three big film festivals, Venice, Toronto and Telluride, are quickly approaching. Often, the films with strong showings during these festivals end up as the main contenders during Oscar season.
Indeed, the next four months will see the premieres of other eagerly anticipated films, such as The Iron Lady, featuring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher; We Need to Talk About Kevin, which earned Tilda Swinton raves at the Cannes Film Festival; and Young Adult, which could give Charlize Theron her third best actress nod.
Stone, Spencer, and Davis will be up against some pretty tough competition in the months to come -- but, right now, they're the front-runners.