(UPDATED: JULY 1, 2014)
Officially half way through the year and I’m very excited to see what the rest of the year will bring. The past two years, ESPECIALLY last year, were simply extraordinary. Trailers that have dropped so far that include Birdman, Fury, Foxcatcher, and Gone Girl look promising. From the first half of the year, we have The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Lego Movie are two films with a lot of fans. I wonder how far those two can go. There are some other films that can of course bubble to the top without us seeing it and I feel like that film could be True Story of Theory of Everything. Also, Ava DuVarney’s Selma has been announced as a definite 2014 release and this could be a great bookend just one year after 12 Years a Slave won. I’m holding off on it until a poster or trailer premieres.
SYNOPSIS: Private investigator Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend in Los Angeles.
FOR IT: Paul Thomas Anderson is beloved by writers and filmmakers out there. Oscar has cited him many times before.
AGAINST IT: People that have read the book say that its "weird" which the Oscars don't like. They also passed on the "The Master."
SYNOPSIS: The story of Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz and how paranoid schizophrenic John duPont killed his brother, Olympic Champion Dave Schultz.
FOR IT: Terrific word out of Cannes. Highly anticipated from fans of "Moneyball" and "Capote." Miller is two for two with Oscar.
AGAINST IT: May be too dark for the Academy.
SYNOPSIS: A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.
FOR IT: Innaritu was a near winner for "Babel" in 2006. There's always a lighter film in the lineup.
AGAINST IT: How different is this going to be? They haven't gone for Innaritu since.
SYNOPSIS: A chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.
FOR IT: World War II film directed by Angelina Jolie. The lines will be around the block. The story is uplifting. It COULD be THE ONE.
AGAINST IT: Will voters be able to take Jolie seriously as a director?
SYNOPSIS: A drama centered on the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.
FOR IT: Looks like something that will get the big push from Harvey Weinstein. Tim Burton is due for some Oscar love especially in Director. There will be many pushing for this.
AGAINST IT: We've believed in a Burton project before and have been disappointed. This is a potential bomb.
SYNOPSIS: A woman mysteriously disappears on the day of her wedding anniversary. Based on the novel, “Gone Girl.”
FOR IT: David Fincher is off a big loss for "The Social Network" and there are some bitter from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" omission.
AGAINST IT: Is it TOO commercial for the Academy? How will lovers of the book feel?
SYNOPSIS: A thriller set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city’s history, and centered on a the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.
FOR IT: Chandor continues to show his skills a filmmaker with "All is Lost" and "Margin Call" under his belt. This seems to be his most accessible and ambitious.
AGAINST IT: Will it be too small for the Academy to embrace?
SYNOPSIS: A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.
FOR IT: Christopher Nolan has been credited as the reason we went to ten (or sliding scale) nominees. There's always a popcorn/science fiction film in the mix.
AGAINST IT: One year after "Gravity," will it seem too familiar?
SYNOPSIS: Set in an unnamed Third World country, three kids who make a discovery in a garbage dump soon find themselves running from the cops and trying to right a terrible wrong.
FOR IT: Everytime we underestimated a Stephen Daldry film, it's made the cut. There's no need to start now.
AGAINST IT: Eventually luck runs out.
SYNOPSIS: A witch conspires to teach important lessons to various characters of popular children’s stories including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel.
FOR IT: Since "Chicago" won Best Picture, we've been getting musicals in contention nearly each time. This beloved musical was a hit on Broadway. Just might do the trick.
AGAINST IT: It is a darker story than what many may be used to.
SYNOPSIS: April, 1945. A battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Wardaddy and his men face odds in their attempts to strike at Nazi Germany.
FOR IT: World War II is the Academy's favorite time period. David Ayer produced an underrated gem in "End of Watch." Is this his chance for the mainstream?
AGAINST IT: There's another World War II film from a high-profile star in the mix.
SYNOPSIS: An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner's life.
FOR IT: Cannes praise was very loud with Timothy Spall winning Best Actor. Leigh is beloved in the Academy.
AGAINST IT: Mike Leigh is surefire in screenplay but in Picture, he usually comes up short.
SYNOPSIS: A reporter becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign that drives him to the point of suicide after he exposes the CIA's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California. Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb.
FOR IT: The trailer looked very promising and the anticipation on this film has been huge. Good cast with Jeremy Renner helming the ship.
AGAINST IT: Is it too cool for the Academy to go for? Michael Cuesta has done a lot of TV with some films that haven't been exactly accessible ("L.I.E.")
SYNOPSIS: A chronicle of one woman's 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe.
FOR IT: "Dallas Buyers Club" made quite an impression on the Academy last year from Jean-Marc Vallee, winning three Oscars. This follow-up seems to be another powerful story.
AGAINST IT: When's the last time that Witherspoon was Oscar bound? Will it feel too much in the vein of "127 Hours" and produce a been there/done that attitude?
SYNOPSIS: During the early years of German occupation of France, romance blooms between Lucile Angellier, a French villager and Bruno von Falk, a German soldier.
FOR IT: Another war film with an all-star cast pushed by Harvey Weinstein. Has prestige and Oscar written all over it.
AGAINST IT: It's from an unfinished novel. May not translate well for American audiences.
SYNOPSIS: A journalist is detained in Iran for more than 100 days and brutally interrogated in prison.
FOR IT: The early buzz is big for Jon Stewart's debut. An intriguing story that feels in the realm of past winners like "Argo." Also pushed by Megan Ellison who is fresh off two Best Picture nominations.
AGAINST IT: Will they be able to take Stewart seriously? How will they fair with this first time director?
SYNOPSIS: A New York couple’s relationship.
FOR IT: An intriguing and fresh look at American relationships. Cannes and Toronto seemed to like it quite a bit.
AGAINST IT: With it first set up as two films, now one, with two other versions lurking, an Academy member may not know which one to embrace.
SYNOPSIS: A look at the sexual frustrations that young teenagers and adults face in today’s world.
FOR IT: Jason Reitman continues to be a force in the filmmaking world. When it comes to the Academy, they either go all-in or nothing at all. This acclaimed novel sounds baity.
AGAINST IT: After "Labor Day," has he lost his touch with the Academy? Family-surrounded drama starring Adam Sandler doesn't sound like the Academy's forte.
SYNOPSIS: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
FOR IT: Wes Anderson barely missed out on a Best Picture nomination with "Moonrise Kingdom." This first quarter film has its vocal lovers.
AGAINST IT: Will they remember it by year's end?
PICTURE | DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT