STUDIO CIRCUIT: Will 20th Century Fox return to glory with Gone Girl?

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As you’re about to see, Twentieth Century Fox has a lot of movies in 2014. While only one film seems to have the ability to crack the Best Picture lineup, the rest of its slate seems primed for some tech nominations. In 2014, Fox had a trio of hiccups (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Book Thief, and The Counselor) following its massively successful 2012 season (Life of Pi and Lincoln). Indeed, Fox’s last Best Picture winner was Titanic…so it’s been a while. Can they return to their glory days? Also, can they take Best Animated Feature in a Pixar-lite field, since they’re responsible for a staggering five animated films this year?  Their FYC site can be found here.

The “Most Likely Mentions in Award Season” section means just that: award season, not exclusively the Oscars, SAGs, Globes, and BAFTAs, but also the NBR and San Diego Film Critic’s Society.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past
Director: Bryan Singer

Despite what feels like 50 entries into Fox’s X-Men franchise, not a single X-Men film has been nominated for an Oscar–not even the much beloved X2 or X-Men: First Class.  Certainly, if critics groups or the AMPAS’ tech branches want to throw love to a superhero film, I imagine it will be Guardians of the Galaxy rather than this.  However, one detail going in the film’s favor is that X-Men: Days of Future Past has some great period work–but will it be enough?

MOST LIKELY MENTIONS IN AWARD SEASON:
Best Production Design
Best Costume Design
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing
Best Visual Effects
Best Makeup and Hairstyling

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Rio 2
Director: Carlos Saldanha

The original Rio earned an Oscar nomination—but for Original Song, not Animated Feature. Nevertheless, when a field is comprised of only 16 movies, the possibilities of landing in a field of 5 is quite high. Will Rio 2 land more nominations than the original? Or less?

MOST LIKELY MENTIONS IN AWARD SEASON:
Best Animated Feature
Best Original Song – “What Is Love”

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The Book of Life
Director: Jorge Gutierrez

A non-sequel with a nice design is always a plus when trying to make the final lineup for Best Animated Feature. This Mexican-themed animated film will have the opportunity not only to delight the ears, but also the eyes of viewers. Frankly, with a surefire nominee in Dragon 2 (co-distributor), I think Fox’s best bets for a secondary Animated Feature nomination are The Book of Life and/or Rio 2, rather than their two other animated properties, Penguins of Madagascar and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

MOST LIKELY MENTIONS IN AWARD SEASON:
Best Animated Feature
Best Score
Best Original Song – “I Love You Too Much”
Best Original Song – “The Apology Song”

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves

The sequel to the rebooted prequel franchise opened in summer to very strong reviews. Indeed, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes earned near-raves. But then the buzz disappeared. I don’t think anyone suddenly thinks this film is bad, but I also don’t think it has stayed with many people the way its predecessor did. As with any and every Andy Serkis performance, there will likely be a push for a legitimate acting recognition. In the end, however, I wonder if this film will garner more nominations than the original, which earned only one nominated for Best Visual Effects, which it lost to Hugo. Fox also has X-Men: Days of Future Past, but since the original was snubbed in the Visual Effects race, I’m doubtful the sequel will do better.

MOST LIKELY MENTIONS IN AWARD SEASON:
Best Picture
Best Supporting Actor – Andy Serkis
Best Score
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing
Best Visual Effects

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Exodus: Gods and Kings
Director: Ridley Scott

Sigh. Once upon a time, Ridley Scott was an Oscar favorite—earning three Best Director nominations and helming a film to a Best Picture prize. But since 2001, he’s barely made a dent. In fact, he’s sadly become a joke. Images and trailers from Exodus: Gods and Kings seem to indicate Hollywood’s ongoing issue with whitewashing tales of the Middle East. Alas, swords and sandals epics, regardless of controversy or quality, somehow seem to find their ways into tech races.

MOST LIKELY MENTIONS IN AWARD SEASON:
Best Score
Best Costume Design
Best Production Design
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing
Best Visual Effects
Best Makeup & Hairstyling

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The Fault in Our Stars
Director: Josh Boone

While I don’t think anyone can claim with stiff confidence that indie-darling Shailene Woodley is a surefire nominee for her heartbreaking work in The Fault in Our Stars, she ought not be discounted yet. This is the perfect type of performance and actress that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves to nominate, if only to see her show up to the ceremony. She’s closer to a nomination than people think, but I feel that a handful of actresses will need to fall by the wayside in order for her to get that first Oscar nomination. Not to mention, if Gone Girl turns out to be ignored by AMPAS, Fox will have only one other performance to back during awards season: Woodley. Okay? Okay. The film’s best chance at Oscar love might be its duo of original song contenders.

MOST LIKELY MENTIONS IN AWARD SEASON:
Best Actress – Shailene Woodley
Best Original Song – “Let Me In”
Best Original Song – “Not About the Angels”

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Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher

David Fincher’s Gone Girl, which premiered at the New York Film Festival, has performed exceedingly well with critics and box office. Much prognostication has stemmed from the film, and with good cause. Best-selling novel? Check. Red-hot director? Check. Great cast? Sure. But the AMPAS has a tenuous relationship with Fincher—giving him 2 Best Director nominations and then nominating The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in seemingly every category but Best Director. The acting ensemble is outstanding. Rosamund Pike is a stellar leading lady based off the character in the book and what she achieves. But what about Ben Affleck, Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris? Could they crack lineups in their respective categories.

MOST LIKELY MENTIONS IN AWARD SEASON:

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor – Ben Affleck
Best Actress – Rosamund Pike
Best Supporting Actress – Carrie Coon

Best Supporting Actress – Kim Dickens
Best Supporting Actor – Tyler Perry
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Score
Best Cinematography
Best Film Editing
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing

Make sure to read the latest Oscar Predictions to see which 20th Century Fox films are listed including Best Picture!