The Contenders 2011

Despite Woody Allen’s insoluble association with New York (and a more-than-implied aversion to Los Angeles), the writer-director found new vitality in a carefree sojourn abroad this year with “Midnight in Paris” — the latest in a series of late-career pics set in the world’s most scenic cities.

But after opening the Cannes film festival in May, “Midnight” went on to seduce audiences like no other Allen pic before, which can’t hurt its chances in the directing, original screenplay and perhaps even performance categories. Set amid the literary Paris of the ’20s, the time-traveling fantasy charmed the critics, while word-of-mouth kept it in theaters throughout the summer, making “Midnight” Allen’s biggest hit ever. (With a worldwide cume of more than $128 million, it positively dwarfs the closest Allen film, “Hannah and her Sisters.” It’s also remade its budget three times.)

The director has been a regular name on the Oscar ballot since “Annie Hall” took 1977’s best picture, writer and director prizes, and yet, of the 18 nominations he’s received since, the only other time he won was for writing “Hannah” — 25 years ago.

If the Academy is reluctant to fete Allen himself, acknowledging Corey Stoll’s turn as Ernest Hemingway would be one way of recognizing a movie that has resuscitated the helmer’s career.

Release date: June 10
Sony Pictures Classics
Read the Variety review

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