(UPDATED: NOVEMBER 24, 2014)
“Into the Woods” has dropped and we have a strong contender for Walt Disney Pictures to secure their first live action Best Picture nomination since “Mary Poppins.” “Selma” will screen for Academy members over the Thanksgiving holiday as will a whole bunch of contenders. Screeners are going out by the dozen. “Interstellar” continues to make some money but the mixed-to-positive praise may have it miss out in the end. Especially on a ballot where there’s only five spots.
CLICK ON THE PICTURES FOR COMMENTARY
SYNOPSIS: Martin Luther King, Lyndon Baines Johnson and the civil rights marches that changed America.
FOR IT: Late entry and a biopic that everyone will be paying attention to. Ava DuVarnay is becoming a force in Hollywood. Could she be our next Kathryn Bigelow?
AGAINST IT: AFI was kind, NYC loved it too. Will the Academy go for this following "12 Years a Slave" a year ago?
SYNOPSIS: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.
FOR IT: Pushed by the Weinstein Company. Has a lot of support. People's choice winner from TIFF. Conventional Oscar-bait. Could be just what the doctor ordered.
AGAINST IT: The homosexual cloud could be a put off to the conservative members.
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 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. Closer for NYFF. Outstanding notices. Would be a different type of winner that many would champion.
AGAINST IT: This is something that Oscar has never embraced before. New territory. Will they find it "too weird."
SYNOPSIS: A look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.
FOR IT: Focus Features is on a roll following "Dallas Buyers Club." This biopic has many excited and could be more of sure thing than many think.
AGAINST IT: In a year of many biopics, will this one stand out? Could be just an acting embrace.
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: 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. Over $124 million at the box office and counting. Could be a crowd favorite.
AGAINST IT: Is it TOO commercial for the Academy? This would be something new for them.
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: Late into the race with a New Year's eve release but the buzz surrounding it seems to be high. This could be a last minute entry that takes it all.
AGAINST IT: Think of films like "Blue Valentine" with a similar release date and didn't crack too much. By that point, AMPAS could have their minds made up.
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. This does offer more than usual in that spot.
AGAINST IT: One year after "Gravity," are they all spaced out? They have passed on Nolan before. May not be their cup of tea. Reviews are mixed-to-positive
SYNOPSIS: The story of Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz and how paranoid schizophrenic John duPont killed his brother, Olympic Champion Dave Schultz.
FOR IT: Great reviews from Cannes, TIFF, and NYFF. Is a dark but detailed tale that some may fall under its spell.
AGAINST IT: May be too dark for the Academy.
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: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
FOR IT: One of the best reviewed films from the first half of the year. If AMPAS wants to right the wrong from the "Moonrise Kingdom" omission, this could be a surprise entry.
AGAINST IT: March was a long time ago. It needs the critic's prizes to bring it back into the conversation.
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." Has a lot of the Oscar check marks.
AGAINST IT: Reviews weren't as positive as Sony may have hoped. This would need all the major precursors to come through for it..
SYNOPSIS: In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
FOR IT: NYFF centerpiece directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Will have lots of respect from the actors since there are so many in it.
AGAINST IT: It's weird and VERY strange. Not sure many will "get it."
SYNOPSIS: Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested.
FOR IT: An Alzheimer's drama, which may hit close to home with Academy members. If Julianne Moore is a sure thing, then they may jump for the film as well.
AGAINST IT: Also opening at the end of the year, it will be crowded by many other bigger films in the field.
SYNOPSIS: A Navy SEAL recounts his military career, which includes more than 150 confirmed kills.
FOR IT: Seems to be pulling the same game plan that worked for "Million Dollar Baby" with a last minute release scheduled. Could be a big hit.
AGAINST IT: Eastwood is not as consistent as he used to be. He already has a mixed film under his belt with "Jersey Boys."
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