We're now heading towards the end of October and although there are still plenty of films that still haven't been released we do have a better idea of what the Oscar race will look like because of film festivals and the release of a few high prominent films in October. I am only going to tackle the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. Other categories will come later.
Best PictureThe two locks right now for Best Picture nominations are Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. Gravity has received amazing reviews and is a runaway hit at the box office and 12 Years a Slave has made festival rounds and has gotten remarkable reviews with nearly every major film publication declaring that it is the favorite for Best Picture.
Other strong possibilities from films that have already been released in various festivals or theaters are All is Lost, Captain Phillips, Blue Jasmine, Lee Daniel's The Butler, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska. Also Spike Jonze's Her has gotten a very strong reaction at various film festivals so don't count this film out when it gets released December 18th.
From films that haven't yet been released the strong contenders are American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, The Monuments Men, and The Wolf of Wall Street (if it gets released in 2013).
The locks in this category are Alfonso Cauron for Gravity and Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave because of the outright success of their films. Also a strong possibility among films released in some form or another are Joel and Ethan Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis and Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips. The Coens are always contenders whenever a film of theirs gets released and Paul Greengrass has been nominated before for United 93.
Other possibilities could be David O. Russell for American Hustle, John Lee Hancock for Saving Mr. Banks, Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street, George Clooney for The Monuments Men, Spike Jonze for Her, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine, Lee Daniels for Lee Daniel's The Butler, and J.C. Chandor for All is Lost.
This category out of all the categories could already be decided who will get nominated, or at least we have a really good idea. The front runners are Chiwetel Ejiofer (Twelve Years a Slave), Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Matthew McConaughey (The Dallas Buyers Club), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
However, not to be counted out are Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Forrest Whitaker (The Butler), and Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis).Best Actress
This category, like Best Actor, is also looking to shape out pretty well already. Among the strong contenders are . Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), and Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).
Other strong possibilities are Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Kate Winslet (Labor Day), Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color), Berenice Bejo (The Past), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), and Brie Larson (Short Term 12).
Any one that I missed? Any category you'd like to see a film or person be nominated in? Also a note that I think Ridley Scott's The Counselor could be a wild card here. The film never gets mentioned in Awards contention programs or sites but could very well make an impact.