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Friday, January 3, 2014
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10 Pre-Fall Releases with the Best Oscar Chances

By Terence Johnson
Managing Editor

The PGA nominations were announced yesterday and while many of the films we expected to be there made it, an interesting stat came to the forefront. Blue Jasmine was the only film released before October that managed to pick up a nomination. Everyone knows that the later release dates tend to bear out Oscar seeking films, but to only have one pre-October release is very telling. So today, I decided to look at all of the pre-fall releases (ie. before September) and see which films might be successful with Oscar.

Before Midnight – I may have written a few words about this film since joining the site about this very subject. That this film has managed to stay in the conversation is both a testament to its quality and the weirdly thin Adapted Screenplay category. This film has probably the most likely outcome of those listed in that it’s worst case scenario of Adapted Screenplay is already written in the stars. Anything more will be a plus.
Worst Case Scenario: Adapted Screenplay
Best Case Scenario: Picture, Adapted Screenplay

Blue JasmineWoody Allen is a perennial favorite with the Academy and it’s no surprise that when his films are good that they are in contention. Of course, the main element keeping this movie in the conversation is the stunning performance by Cate Blanchett. Picking up a PGA nomination was a big get for the candidacy of this movie.
Worst Case Scenario: Actress
Best Case Scenario: Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay

The Great Gatsby – I have to hand it to the folks at Warner Bros., they’ve kept this movie in contention even when critics were none too kind to it when it opened. Of course that box office and soundtrack success helped as well. Baz Luhrmann’s films are always tech spectacles and this one is especially opulent.
Worst Case Scenario: Costume Design, Original Song
Best Case Scenario: Production Design, Costume Design, Original Song (x2)

Lee Daniels’ The Butler – This film has taken a beating as of late, with no PGA nod and Oprah getting snubbed at the Globes. But I find it hard to think that with 3 SAG nominations including Best Ensemble and awards season maestro Harvey Weinstein behind it that the film won’t get some Oscar love.
Worst Case Scenario: Supporting Actress, Costume Design
Best Case Scenario: Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Original Song

The Lone Ranger – The mere discussion of this film and Oscar makes me make this face. But yes, The Lone Ranger is still in contention, and serious at that, for several tech nominations, proving that sometimes the Academy can go for most rather than best.
Worst Case Scenario (for the Film, But Best Case for Us): No Nominations
Best Case Scenario: Production Design, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Make Up, Sound Editing

Man of Steel – This movie seemed to have a decent shot in the technical categories before December rolled around and it missed out on that Visual Effects shortlist. That’s a big miss for any summer blockbuster that wants to seriously contend for the Oscars.
Worst Case Scenario: No Nominations
Best Case Scenario: Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Production Design (If they go crazy)

Mud – The first screener to go out to voters, this film did very well at the box office and has popped up in a few top 10 lists here and there. This movie is also getting a bit of a boost due to Matthew McConaughey being in contention for Dallas Buyers Club (he’s being campaigned supporting for Mud). I think there’s only so many spaces for indie films in this years race, and this one is on the outside looking in.
Worst Case Scenario: No Nominations
Best Case Scenario: Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor

Oblivion – One of the more stealth contenders in this group, Oblivion has been lurking in the background for a while. Many speak highly of the score and sound design, and it did land on the visual effects shortlist. With other films in the race that aren’t as polished as this one, Oblivion could sneak in a few places.
Worst Case Scenario: No Nominations
Best Case Scenario: Original Score, Sound Editing, Visual Effects

Pacific Rim – If you are looking for a sure bet in your Oscar pool, Pacific Rim landing in a technical category is almost a lock. The movie, regardless of quality, has got everything a contender for techs could hope for, it’s loud, bright, and has monsters fighting robots. The only thing that will stop it from picking up 3 Oscar nominations is if the branches get stuffy and vote more for the prestige titles (think 12 Years a Slave in Sound Mixing).
Worst Case Scenario: Visual Effects
Best Case Scenario: Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects

Short Term 12 – This is the little movie that could, if only it could have gotten a bigger push a little bigger. Many critics groups have gone to bat for the film recently but it might be a case of too little too late. However, there have been stranger surprises come Oscar time and it does have a devoted following.
Worst Case (and Likely) Scenario: No Nominations
Best Case Scenario: Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Original Song

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  • david

    It would be a crying shame if Brie Larson or Short Term 12 would get shutout come Oscar time. It is one of the best movies of the year and Brie gave one of if not the best female lead performance of the year let’s not forget she beat Blanchett head to head at the Gotham independent film awards. Not only should she get an Oscar nomination she would win the best actress Oscar!!!! I’m going to predict that Larson will get nominated I think once Oscar voters see her performance (if they’ve seen it) she will get a bunch of first place votes enough to get her nominated

    • Terence Johnson

      I hope Brie gets an Oscar nomination as well. Wouldn’t mind if her and Adele E. replaced Meryl and Dench in the final lineup