The air is getting thick in the Oscar world. Every film is a contender, every performance is the one to beat, and yet, we still have over a dozen or so films we are eagerly awaiting the first word on. There’s no denying that the buzz that has surrounded Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” is something to pay very close attention to. Telluride and Toronto took to it like a moth to a flame and critics are getting their first peaks now. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Lupita Nyong’o seem lined up to capture their first nominations. I’ll be able to weigh in on it tonight.
Ron Howard has been out of the Oscar hunt since he waltzed his way to a nomination for “Frost/Nixon” in 2009. Universal Pictures is gearing up for a strong campaign for his newest film “Rush” and Supporting Actor Daniel Bruhl are getting their admirers from every direction. There’s a good chance that the film receives lots of love from the other guilds as well. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle along with Film Editors Mike Hill and Dan Hanley are looking better by the day.
We’ve already seen some contenders get the push back to 2014 that debuted at Toronto. The Weinstein Company bought four big films that we were keeping our eyes on but it looks like we’ll wait until next season for their unveiling. Ned Benson’s double film, “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her” and Jonathan Teplitzsky’s “The Railway Man” are confirmed and John Carney’s “Can a Song Save Your Life?” is looking more likely by the moment.
Everyone has been talking about how competitive the Lead Actress race has become. As I begin to unveil the updated Oscar Predictions, you will see that the Top 15 look strong but I had to look in this most peculiar places to stretch it out to 40 contenders. Mia Wasikowska will sit the year out for her work in “Tracks” and Jonathan Glazer’s long-awaited “Under the Skin” is said to place Scarlett Johansson in next year’s awards season.
There are some cinematic endeavors that have been seen, received good word, but still remains a mystery about where it can go for the awards year. Denis Villenueve’s “Prisoners” found great ink for last year’s Best Actor nominee Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Melissa Leo. Jackman will likely fall victim to a crowded Best Actor race but in Supporting, a category that has no obvious frontrunner at the moment, Gyllenhaal still looks to be on the outside.
I have no idea what to do with Paramount Pictures’ “Labor Day” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Jason Reitman‘s film was viewed in Telluride and received positive words for Kate Winslet and Supporting Actor hopeful Josh Brolin. Neither of which feel necessarily safe based on those reactions. Just getting “good” or even “very good” doesn’t do much for your Oscar campaign. Martin Scorsese‘s picture is said not to be done yet and that along with “American Hustle” from Sony Pictures are the two biggest question marks of the season. Where will Leonardo DiCaprio figure into the race? With Matthew McConaughey showing that he’s got the goods, Ejiofor showing his power as a leading man, and Bruce Dern declaring himself not “a whore,” will he fall victim again after missing for “Django Unchained” just a year ago? I imagined a Lead Actor race that includes DiCaprio, Dern, Redford, McConaughey, and Ejiofor and just about lost my mind. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see unfold.
Finally, can we please just AT LEAST get a poster for Bennett Miller‘s “Foxcatcher” from Sony Pictures Classics. That’s the bare minimum I’m asking for at this point. With a film set to debut at AFI and open in December, they sure are slow on the uptake. I would also like the company to consider placing Steve Carell in a Supporting Actor lineup. I haven’t seen it yet but based on the test screenings, the three men, Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, all share screen time. Carell fit very well in a lineup alongside John Goodman, Fassbender, and Tom Hanks. If it’s as serious as we think, and he’s sort of the villain in the story, why not put him where they love to give those types of performances. I feel like voters will look at him in the same way they looked at Jim Carrey for all those years (and continue to do). Supporting is a category for “comedians-turned-serious.”
New York Film Festival kicks off for critics on Monday and TIFF is just about done. The prediction pages are being updated throughout the day. For now, you can look at Best Picture and Director. Check back for the acting categories throughout the day and technical, Foreign Language, and Documentary Feature updates tomorrow. You can also take a look at the Staff Prediction pages that have been updated.
What are you predicting? Give your thoughts on the race?