The Fox Searchlight project He Loves Me is already a pretty safe bet for indie greatness. It's the first film for directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since Little Miss Sunshine, and reunites them with that film's star Paul Dano, who stars along with his real-life girlfriend Zoe Kazan, an indie actress stalwart on her own who also wrote the script. Now the movie has managed to bump the talent factor up another notch; according to Variety, Annette Bening has signed on to play Dano's mom, a painter named Gertrude who's struggling with the fact that her son hates her new husband, Mort.

I expect there's a serious casting derby right now figuring out who will play Mort, since playing Bening's spouse on film typically works out pretty well-- just ask Kevin Spacey about his role in American Beauty, or Julianne Moore and the acclaim she got for The Kids Are All Right. Of course there's already rampant speculation that her role in He Loves Me could earn Bening the Best Actress she's narrowly lost many times now, but it's way, way early days for that. Little Miss Sunshine was an unlikely Best Picture nominee back in 2006, and trying to predict the Academy's taste even days before the nominations, much less years, is a fool's errands. Still, this project will be one to watch out for, and with production starting next month, we could easily get a look at it as early as Sundance next year.

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