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'Rabbit Hole': Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart enter the Oscar race

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Today brings news that Lionsgate, the distributor that released Precious last year, has bought the Nicole Kidman drama Rabbit Hole at Toronto and will release it for Oscar consideration this fall. This is great news for those of us that feel like serious adult dramas aren’t being made anymore. I saw the film, directed by John Cameron Mitchell, at its Toronto premiere on Monday night and was impressed with it. Kidman and Eckhart play a married couple struggling to deal with the recent death of their 4-year-old son. (It’s based on the play by David Lindsay-Abaire; Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery starred in the New York production.)

So can Kidman, a past Best Actress winner for The Hours, snag another nomination this year? Some of my fellow Oscar prognosticators think she’s a slam dunk. I’m not as bullish. She gives a fine performance but with the exception of one fireworks scene, it’s a fairly subdued turn. And thanks to movies like The Kids Are All Right, Blue Valentine, Black Swan, and Another Year, the Best Actress race is looking quite crowded. Kidman is certainly a contender for a nomination, just not a sure thing.

The performance in Rabbit Hole that stands out to me is Eckhart’s. He shines in the film’s comedic and dramatic moments, showing range I’ve never seen before. And he gets to rant and rave a bit more than Kidman does, which doesn’t hurt with the Academy. He’s delivered sturdy work for years (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty, Thank You for Smoking), and I’d love to see him score his first career nomination. And fortunately, the supporting actor field isn’t nearly as dense.