The headline might continue “but perhaps not as good as the last”.
The 85th Academy Awards were a rather awesome assemblage of great films (Lincoln, Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook... you might want to click your tongue) which surprisingly connected with the audience in a big way: Out of nine Best Picture nomineees, eight grossed over $100 million.
With the Telluride and Venice Film Festival just behind us, and Sundance and Cannes in distant memory, quite a few of the contenders were already seen by the critics. But as box office receipts also play a considerable role in the Oscar game and there are tons of precursor awards, nothing is even remotely sure yet.
The only thing to be done is a bit of silly guessing.
So let's get to it!
Three movies that premiered in Telluride and Venice to great applause should be considered favorites for the win right now, simply for the fact that they were seen and judged to be utterly fantastic.
The first one (and presumed frontrunner) is Steve McQueen’s slavery drama 12 Years A Slave. McQueen’s third movie has all the Academy craves for: an extremely serious subject matter, a spectacular cast, great visuals and plenty of opportunities to get emotional.
Watch the trailer for 12 Years a Slave here.
A movie that no one (at least to my knowledge) suspected would be talked about in Oscar terms is ’s abduction thriller Prisoners. The - starrer has garnered quite spectacular reviews after its showing in Telluride. It's mostly described as a tough yet extremely rewarding cinematic experience with strong performances.
Watch the trailer for Prisoners here.
Last but certainly not least, ’s sci-fi two-hander Gravity should feature into the Oscar race heavily. The ecstatic (it was even compared to 2001 A Space Odyssey) reviews at least heavily lean in this direction, and box office prospects for the suspenseful outer space 3D thriller seem robust.
Watch the trailer for Gravity here.
Back in May, Inside Llewyn Davis from the Coen Brothers received similarly great reviews. If the iconoclastic filmmakers manage to get nominated for something as unlikely as A Serious Man, this reportedly heartbreaking folk tragicomedy should be a sure thing.
Watch the trailer for for Inside Llewyn Davis here.
The only pick out of the ten to be already released in the US is Lee Daniels' The Butler.
Somewhat surprisingly (after the director’s critically derided The Paperboy), the movie was greeted by decent reviews (72% on Rotten Tomatoes). Monetary matters (3 consecutive weeks at number one of the domestic box office) look extra-splendid and the movie is certainly emotional enough to please the more...well, let's say the older wing of the Academy who still remembers seeing The Sound of Music in the cinema.
Cynics might question if two movies exploring African American matters can play such a large role come Oscar time, with 12 Years A Slave and The Butler both being nominated (Fruitvale Station would be a third possibility). With a black president in the Oval Office, the answer should be a resounding yes.
Watch the trailer for Lee Daniels' The Butler here.
Now, if we still were in the 1990s or 1980s, Saving Mr. Banks would be the distant frontrunner for the 86th Academy Awards.
A tearjerker centering on P.L Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, the drama tells the story of how the headstrong woman valiently tried not to sell the movie rights of her most famous creation to savvy businessman Walt Disney. We're talking classical Oscar bait here with lots of opportunities to viciously tug at some heartstrings. And as Walt Disney. What else do you need?
Watch the trailer for Saving Mr. Banks here.
But I am envisioning a scenario in which ’s fantastical adventure comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty might be the surprise winner.
Footage of the film was shown at Cinema Con and pretty much everyone wet themselves, with fateful Forrest Gump and Life of Pi comparisons made left and right. Before you dismiss this, bear in mind that the screenplay is from The Pursuit of Happyness's author Steve Conrad and the cinematography by one Stuart Dryburgh who shot The Piano, arguably one of the most beautiful films of the 1990s. That the viewer's eyes and heart should be taken care of is what I am saying.
Watch the trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty here.
Besides that presumed crowd-pleaser, American Hustle and Foxcatcher will test if on-the-roll directors and , who have been nominated for pretty much everything they've done lately (or in the case of Miller, for all he's ever done), can continue their streak. Both films do sound highly intriguing on paper, therefore...why not?
Watch the trailer for American Hustle here.
While 's last feature film, Hugo, was a surprisingly sentimental offering from the director, The Wolf of Wall Street should veer into different territory. From the look of the trailer, we'll witness America's arguably best director sink his teeth into the cynical doings of some very derpraved citizens of Wall Street – and have lots of fun with it.
Watch the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street here.
Directing wunderkind Steve McQueen should definitely be nominated for 12 Years A Slave, if the movie does as well in general as presumed above.
As already mentioned, my money is on delivering his Forrest Gump with Walter Mitty. Other than that, it’s highly improbable that the Coens are missing out on a nomination.
should also be recompensed for what appears to be a true directing tour de force with Gravity. gets slot number five due to his being Martin Scorsese (although that didn't help Shutter Island back in the day).
Right now, I'd predict that the race for best actor will be threefold. The notices for 's performance in 12 Years A Slave have been pretty much perfect, with adjectives in the vein of "incredible" thrown around a lot.
His biggest competitor in terms of Oscar-baity-ness sure must be in the AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey endured a -esque physical transformation and lost a third of his body weight for the role. It should help that his last 4 performances (Bernie, Killer Joe, Magic Mike and Mud) were career highlights, with a supporting turn in The Wolf of Wall Street bostering his prospects even more.
Watch the trailer for Dallas Buyers Club here.
Surprisingly, has never won an Academy Award for his acting (he won for directing Ordinary People) and All Is Lost seems like his best shot in years... perhaps even in this still young century. In the high seas survival adventure, the Redford has the screen all for himself. The screen legend acquits himself spectacularly well, if the raves from Cannes can be trusted. There is, however, only a minute;s worth of words to be spoken by Redford in All Is Lost. It's basically a mute performance, so that may affect things.
Watch the trailer for All Is Lost here.
in Nebraska doesn't have that many more lines in Nebraska, but it's a fantastic turn. 's tragicomedy premiered to very warm reviews in Cannes - although decidedly not Sideways-esque raves. But Dern still managed to win the Best Actor prize at the fest. The New Hollywood acting icon has been around a lot (a silly understament) and should have a good part of the Hollywood voting elite behind him.
My last choice might seem considerably less probable. portrays the schizophrenic John Du Pont in 's psychodrama Foxcatcher. Miller squeezed Oscar-worthy turns out of (Capote) and (Moneyball), therefore I am wagering that he'll do the same for Carell.
Saving Mr. Banks provides with a beautiful role, which should be exactly the British actress' cup of tea: an eccentric, emotionally withdrawn English lady of genius. Although Thompson has already won two Oscars (one for starring in Howard’s End, one for writing the screenplay for Sense & Sensibility), I would say that a third one doesn’t seem improbable.
’s turn in Blue Jasmine earned her some of the best reviews of her career, and those glowing reviews were many. Hence a nomination for her performance in 's surprisingly successful latest seems like the surest thing on the list.
Watch the trailer for Blue Jasmine here.
is pretty much on screen all the time in Gravity. The biggest objection you could raise against predicting a nomination for Bullock (who won for her turn in The Blind Side) is that she is in a space suit for most of the movie and that said space suit is situated in a sci-fi film - hardly the most fertile ground for an Oscar-nominated performance. But Bullock is well-liked and Gravity is getting ace reviews, so I'd say a nomination is definitely in the cards.
is being universally lauded for her work in the moving and comic Philomena. The actress has been nominated six times and already won for her mini-supporting turn in Shakespeare in Love. Still, her last nomination dates back to 2007, so it's time.
Watch the trailer for Philomena here.
A nomination for ’s brave work in Before Midnight might be a bit of wishful thinking, but why not think wishful for a second?
The movie contains incredibly long takes which must have been hell to play. The fact that you never catch Delpy (or her partner ) acting makes the achievement even greater.
Watch the trailer for Before Midnight here.
I have to confess to being very satisfied with this line up, at least in terms of probablity.
In 12 Years A Slave he plays a plantation owner who reportedly seems the personification of evil. The Academy must know it's time for a nomination (or even a win maybe...).
The somewhat less deserving makes a pretty spectacular appearence in the Dallas Buyers Club trailer. He’s playing a HIV infected transvestite, a showy role if there ever was one (on paper).
’s part in Foxcatcher will probably be something of a sympathetic co-lead with a tragic note and Ruffalo is never not great.
playing Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks postively stinks of nomination. Alas, the role borders on being a lead. But as the drama is really about ’s P.L. Travers, putting Hanks in the supporting category seems like a wise choice.
In the screenplay, Disney is a great character, hiding his deep understanding under savvy showmanship and mischievous charm. It should be a good one for Hanks.
It might be the freshness of the rave reviews, but I am going out on a limb here and saying newcomer is the one to beat for her performance as a suicical slave in 12 Years A Slave. The best supporting actress category often goes to newcomers ( won as a 10-year-old in The Piano) and in most reviews, Nyong'o is singled out alongside Eijofer.
If Nyongo'o doesn't prevail, I'd say either or will take home the golden baldie. Adams should have a field day with the role of 's partner in crime and love in American Hustle. She also has been nominated four times which indicates that the Academy doesn't abhor her.
In the enigmatic screenplay for The Counselor, penned by novelist Cormac McCarthy, arguably has the best role as a car humping (you'll find out...) femme fatale. And if you still remember the actress' explosive few minutes of screen time in Vanilla Sky, you know that she's capable of something special.
Watch the trailer for The Counselor here.
, like Fassbender, has gotten great reviews for her ultra-villainous role in 12 Years a Slave, and double supporting actress nominations aren't seldom in the best actress category.
You may wonder: this being an Oscar prognosis and all, where is ?
Of course the 3-time winner (out of 17 nominations) isn't absent from the list. In fact, she lands on it with the juicy role of an acerbic family matriarch in August: Osage County. It seems fair to say she'll hit it out of the park. Naturally.
Watch the trailer for August: Osage County here.
Those were my predictions for the next Academy Awards. What do you think? Feel free to belittle my lack of foresight in the comments section below!