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Contender: ‘Rabbit Hole’

One of the year's few straight-up serious dramas

Read the Variety review

Two words: Nicole Kidman. The Oscar-winning superstar returns as a mother coping with the death of her son in an emotional performance that has Academy recognition etched into its every icy stare and tearful cry. As one of the year’s few straight-up serious dramas, “Rabbit Hole” stands out for its simplicity and delicate touch, which could lead to kudos for Pulitzer-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (adapting the screenplay from his own stage hit).

Grieving dad Aaron Eckhart does his best to match Kidman’s intensity, and former Oscar winner Dianne Wiest’s sage, sorrowful older mom delivers the piece’s key lines. But the show really belongs to Kidman, who also serves as a producer.

Ever since its critically acclaimed Toronto fest premiere, “Rabbit Hole” hopped to the forefront of the Oscar chatter, but the indie drama could encounter hurdles in the major categories. The film lacks the epic scope of traditional picture winners and may even seem too similar to “Ordinary People.”

Stage-savvy “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” director-creator John Cameron Mitchell makes a notable transition to weightier material here, working with writer Lindsay-Abaire to open up the play. If the Academy connects with the emotional material, both could be honored for their efforts.

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