Sunday, August 11, 2013

August Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

So last month I threw together some last minute predictions in order to complete predictions for the month, but I was not happy with them at all.  In fact, the minute I published them I wanted to retract them and start all over.  With reactions from screenings, trailers, clips, reviews and campaigns in full effect, tis the season and it is really starting to take shape now.  Yes, it is only August, but these next few months are going to be epic, and with TIFF and NYFF happening very soon, we’ll know pretty soon which films are going to make an impact early in the race.  Yes, there are still some end of year releases that will be a mystery until December, but for now we are getting some serious feedback and some really good ideas as to who could become frontrunners for this year’s Oscars.

I’m getting so excited!

So this week I’ll be updating my predictions once again to reflect my feelings on the current status of the race.

I know it's Sunday, but what the hell...I'll start a day early!

Best Picture
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and while the ten films that I have selected may not seem like the most practical at the moment, I wanted to give this a bit of a ‘Wild Card’ mentality.  It is August, the race is just now heating up and reactions are beginning to make a dent in the way people are looking at prognosticating.  Some films have been left off for next year and others have practically died in the buzz department.  Some have opened to shocking reception (good and bad) and others are on the bubble right now, with a mix of good and bad to show clear passion (especially in certain areas) and give us certain films to look out for.

Some films are getting left off my predictions and yet are still on my radar.  ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ is apparently NOT getting a release in France soon enough to make it eligible for the Foreign Language Film Award (stupid movie) but it is reportedly getting a US qualifying release, so I would keep it on the radar.  Last year’s inclusion of ‘Amour’ was certainly the exception, and not the rule, but the reception for ‘Blue’ has been VERY good, so it could translate into a nomination here if end of the year released find themselves eclipsed by it.  Another ‘Blue’ film, ‘Blue Jasmine’ has garnered some great notices, especially for Blanchett (who is all but locked up for the Oscar nomination at this point).  The reviews are mixed, but there is passion.  Speaking of passion, I still feel as though ‘Before Midnight’ could make a serious play for #1 votes and snag a filler nomination here.  People are still talking about it, but with the other categories stacking up it may be hard for it to play in anywhere else and that could make a nomination here very unlikely.

I have been high on ‘The Counselors’ chances since the beginning of the year, but the trailer has me hesitant.  It feels slightly generic in tone and feels like a straight up thriller, and you have to be utterly perfect for Oscar to feel genre films are worthy of their attention.

The two I’m most curious about are ‘Rush’ and ‘August: Osage County’.  Part of me considered ‘August’ to be a pure actors/writers film.  Still, actors make up a large portion of AMPAS and so if they love it, they could certainly put it over the top with #1 votes.  It is also a lock for the SAG ensemble nomination, which is basically the actor’s version of Best Picture, so that could translate as well.  ‘Rush’ is Howard working with sports, and it looks very AMPAS friendly, but it also looks like it could go the route of ‘action film’ as opposed to true Oscar bait.

So right now, I’m still predicting ten, although I don’t feel that there will be ten nominees (I’m thinking nine will once again be the number) but I’m still giving myself that wiggle room (because I deserve it!)

1)      American Hustle

It’s been a roller-coaster of a ride for me with this film as regards to its awards prospects.  I was high on its chances back in April and then I started to doubt it.  Word that it was comedic and those stills that looked so campy had me wondering if this was just destined to be a hot mess, but that trailer is electric and I really think that this could be a winner in many categories, especially if something like ‘Gravity’ is deemed too genre or something like ‘Fruitvale Station’ is deemed too small.

2)      Fruitvale Station

Having actually seen the film, the hype regarding its impact and power is not misleading.  It really does deliver!  When you factor in the film’s topical importance, the fact that this is a true story that mirrors a more recent tragedy and the fact that it is being backed by Harvey ‘all my films get Oscar traction’ Weinstein, it becomes silly to doubt this film right now.

3)      Gravity

For me, the key here is that this film is set to be the ‘event’ film of the year.  The themes of isolation and despair are good ones, and the fact that recent sci-fi films have been embraced by Oscar is a good sign, but even more than that, this has some serious cred in the production department and Cuaron has proven in the past to have the chops to carry something like this.  If the reviews are as ecstatic as they could be, this will become one that is hard to beat.

4)      Saving Mr. Banks

I called this once the trailer landed, but this is looking like the ‘Finding Neverland’ of 2013, and I really don’t see it missing unless it gets absolute pans.  This is pandering right to the core of the AMPAS body at this point, giving them a sugary biopic complete with melted hearts and Walt Disney!  With a trailer that exemplifies charm and shows a hint of darkness, this is looking like that one pedestrian pick the rest of the world balks at while Oscar fully embraces.

5)      The Wolf of Wall Street

This could be a disaster, but I’m pretty confident that this is going to make a big splash with Oscar.  It is Martin Scorsese, letting loose and having fun WHILE serving up topical realness and shading his actions with dark undertones.  This just looks like the type of film the critics will adore and it is an easy nominee in the fact that the themes and the people involved are right up AMPAS ally.

6)      All is Lost

The reviews and reception right out of Cannes were so massive for this film that it almost feels a given here, and yet it still has an uphill battle to secure a spot because of its size.  That being said, those who have seen this (that I know personally) have raved, not only the film but its chances with Oscar.  Apparently, this is a very Oscary piece and would serve as a very respectable nominee.

7)      The Monuments Men

I’ll be the first to admit that this trailer is awful and crushed all my expectations of the film itself, but there is no denying that the pull Clooney has with AMPAS is probably enough to pull even a mediocre film into an expanded field, especially since the subject matter and production values look so Oscary.  Still, this is far from the contender we thought it was, at least based on this trailer.  Maybe the trailer is just misleading, but I doubt it.  No one would make a film look that awful, unless it was necessary.

8)      Inside Llewyn Davis

This is the Coen brothers and the reviews for this film have been great, but this is a very small film distributed by a very small company (CBS Films) and so name may not be enough to sell this to AMPAS, especially in a year with so many smart looking contenders.  Still, it is a Coen film, and if they could snag a Best Picture nomination for ‘A Serious Man’ then they could do it for this too, even if it gets nothing else.

9)      Her

I want to put this higher than #9, but the trailer is still fresh and really that is all I have to go on right now.  Seriously, this looks so delightful, and AMPAS has warmed to Jonze in the past.  It also doesn’t hurt that Phoenix’s character may be relatable and sympathetic to the majority of AMPAS voters, and if the sentiment is done in a charming and unique way, we could have a serious dark horse contender.

10)   The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I laughed at the idea at year’s beginning, but this film looks so…Oscary.  I get major ‘Forrest Gump’ vibes from this as far as context is concerned, but with a layer of intrigue and fantasy that could bode well for it.  You can’t help but want to see more, and it looks like a visual triumph.  Ben Stiller may not be the first person you think of when considering ‘Oscar contender’, but this just looks so richly rewarding.  Early ink was very good, so let’s see where it takes us!


  1. Ooh, I love that you included Her and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty! I know we've only seen Fruitvale Station, but this looks like a solid lineup. :)

    1. Thanks! I know that I may be going overboard on the Her love based on a mere trailer, but I just have this feeling that it is the one film we've all been underestimating.