Joey Magidson’s Initial Predictions for the 86th Academy Awards in 2014
By Joey Magidson
Being an Oscar prognosticator for over a half decade now, I’ve developed some odd habits. One of the things that I do that I know makes people question my sanity is posting my Oscar predictions for the another season as soon as the previous one has ended. I like getting a jump on things and actually started organizing contenders for the 2014 show a few months ago, but unless you’re as hardcore a film junkie as me, that’s crazy-talk.
My super-early predictions are hit and miss, though last year I’m proud to say that I was one of the first to predict Argo and also had three other eventual Best Picture nominees in my initial predix (Django Unchained, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty, in case you were wondering). That being said, I also had The Dark Knight Rises, and that wound up being shut out. Still, this is one of the most enjoyable exercises in futility that in which I engage. Nothing helps me transition from the Oscar telecast back into early season analysis like trying to figure out year-in-advance nominees!
Below you will find what I feel are the top ten contenders for some major Academy Awards recognition next year. They’re hardly the only ones that are already on my radar at this early juncture though. I actually could have done a top 20 list, but opted to keep it simple and just mention some of the second tier contenders before getting to the list proper.
There are some big players that just missed the top ten, like Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor (which bring noms for Michael Fassbender and/or Cormac McCarthy for his first foray into screenwriting), Dallas Buyers Club (I think Matthew McConaughey is a good bet for an Oscar nod in this true life tale), Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron and Sandra Bullock seem likely to be in the race), and Twelve Years A Slave (Chiwetel Ejiofor might be a Best Actor frontrunner, plus filmmaker Steve McQueen and Fassbender could finally hit gold after missing with Shame). I would bet on some kind of recognition for all of them.
There’s likely to be a Sundance graduate making it in, so that could favor either Before Midnight (probably the best bet of the bunch), Fruitvale, Kill Your Darlings, or The Spectacular Now. There’s also a Toronto alumni from last year in The Place Beyond the Pines that could look to overcome upsetting subject matter and an early 2013 release date. Finally, don’t count out either Devils Knot, Lowlife, Only God Forgives, or Serena, as those are a few flicks that I think you’ll be hearing about quite a bit in the coming awards season.
On to the top ten though…
10. The Great Gatsby
This film was pegged as a major Oscar threat last year, but in getting bumped to 2013, some have chosen to write it off, and I can’t say I blame them. The fact of the matter is that this does seem like a perfect fit for a Best Picture nod though, even if it probably doesn’t have a chance of winning. Baz Luhrmann will certainly bring the glitz and glamor, while DiCaprio has his other big contender for a Best Actor nod. This is a boom or bust project if ever there is one.
I have a suspicion that this movie is being set up as mostly a blockbuster piece of entertainment, with awards a secondary consideration for now. If the reviews are where they need to be, then count on a huge Oscar campaign to get underway. If not, then it’ll mostly wind up as a player for the techs. No matter what though, I think it’s all but certain to show up in a few categories on Oscar nomination morning.
9. The Wolf of Wall Street
On paper, this flick seems hard to beat. Martin Scorsese directing, Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead, and the story centers around a true life tale of hard living and excess alongside financial collapse? Sign me up! Still, I’m slightly less confident in this one than many others, since a number of films have covered this ground already, and DiCaprio and Scorsese run the risk of coming too late to the party. If the movie manages not to feel dated, then a lot can happen for it.
My best guess has the film itself, Scorsese, DiCaprio, and the adapted screenplay in play for Oscar nods, along with some tech categories if voters really dig it. This one could just as easily go the way of Shutter Island, but for now I think it’s in the conversation.
At this point, there’s no denying that Bennett Miller is a filmmaker who turns in projects that the Academy eats up. His third feature is a passion project about the schizophrenic millionaire John DuPont, who is the richest man ever to be convicted of a murder. Steve Carell seems like a great fit for the part, along with supporting players Sienna Miller, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum.
Carell and Ruffalo especially seem like good bets for noms, and I’m bullish on the film itself. This could be more offbeat than usual for Miller and that could turn some of his fans off, but if it lives up to its premise and potential, there’s no reason not to expect this to be one of the smaller scale Best Picture nominees.
7. August: Osage County
Another obvious Oscar hopeful with some bust potential, this Meryl Streep star vehicle teams her with Julia Roberts in the cinematic adaptation of a highly regarded Broadway production. Director John Wells will have the task of keeping everything flowing in this dysfunctional family flick, so if he’s able to handle the job, this could be a big contender. That could be a big if, however.
It’s hard to see a scenario where Streep doesn’t get a Best Actress nomination, but unless the movie is a big hit, I could see that being just about all it gets. Wells isn’t exactly an Oscar machine (does anyone but me remember The Company Men?) and the work itself may or may not appeal to voters. A lot of people are higher on this one than I am.
6. Saving Mr. Banks
Oscar voters are big on movies about the film industry these days, as the past two Best Picture winners can attest to, so this Disney flick about the making of Mary Poppins has got to be sitting pretty right now. Another contender featuring Hanks (playing Walt Disney), it also features Emma Thompson as the author of the book that Walt is desperate to make into a movie. Director John Lee Hancock got The Blind Side nominated for Best Picture, so he certainly knows how to attract Oscar voters.
With Disney ready to pour untold amounts of money into this flick and the accompanying campaign, it’s hard to envision this not getting a ton of nominations if the quality is there. That’s somewhat of a question mark right now, but Hanks and Thompson are highly likely to be mentioned a lot this coming season. Where that all leads to, we’ll see…but don’t bet against this film.
5. The Monuments Men
Provided that George Clooney maintains the current quality of his directorial projects, there’s never any reason to assume that a new movie of his won’t be in play for Oscar love. This time around, he’s writing, directing, and starring in a World War II set caper that centers around art historians and museum curators trying to rescue art before Hitler destroys it all. Clooney has employed the likes of Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman (an Oscar lucky charm of late, since he’s co-starred in the last pair of Best Picture winners), and Bill Murray, so this is a star-studded flick.
The only thing keeping me from assuming this is a sure bet for Best Picture is that Clooney’s films seem to come up just shy of the big prize. He’s had good luck overall, but aside from Good Night and Good Luck, he hasn’t wowed the Academy yet. I do think this could be the one to do it though, so keep the movie in mind for Best Picture, along with Clooney for Director.
Anyone who doesn’t immediately mark down a new Alexander Payne project as an awards player from the get go is ignoring history. The Academy really liked Payne, and one of these days they’re going to really reward his work and give a film of his Best Picture and Best Director to Payne himself. This small scale project of his has a decidedly low budget feel, with Bruce Dern and Will Forte leading the cast and the story dealing with an estranged father and son making a trip from Montana to Nebraska to collect Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes prize. It seems like something Payne could knock out of the park.
Under Payne’s direction, we could possibly see Dern emerge as a major Best Actor threat, and that always helps a project of his. I’m pretty sure that at least some nominations will come this film’s way, so the question becomes just how many it can grab. We won’t know for almost a year, but I suspect it could wind up being a lot.
3. David O. Russell’s Untitled Abscam Project
I really think that David O. Russell is on the cusp of just sweeping an Oscar race, so maybe this new project could be the one? It actually seems as though he’s merged his offbeat comic sensibilities with some of what made Argo a success in telling the story of a 1970′s FBI sting operation called Abscam that led to the conviction of United States congressmen. He’s also assembled an incredible cast, including Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., and Jennifer Lawrence.
Adams, Bale, and Renner apparently have the juiciest parts, so they’re in serious play for awards attention. I actually think that Adams and Russell might be in line to win their first Oscars if all goes well with this one, so the film is as big a contender for me right now as any other. If it wound up winning Best Picture, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit.
2. Labor Day
Jason Reitman seems to always be just a hair shy of becoming a true Oscar golden boy. He adapts projects in a way that few others are doing, and while he just missed out on some wins for Up in the Air, this adaptation of a Joyce Maynard novel could do it for him. He’s got Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, and Tobey Maguire leading the cast, so the pedigree is certainly there. The plot has to do with a single mom and her son offering a ride to a wounded man and how their lives are all impacted from then on. Seems like Oscar bait to me…
I’m pretty confident that Reitman himself will score a few nominations for this project, and it’s hard to believe that at least Winslet won’t be along for the ride as well. Best Picture is perhaps his for the taking, though it’ll all come down to how the film is received. If it’s thought of as on the level of Up in the Air, then anything is possible. I’m expecting it to be something like that, but honestly… who knows at this point?
1. Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks has been away from the Oscar game for a while now, but 2013 could very well be the year that he gets back in the Academy’s good graces. He’s got two contenders and is playing a real life character in both projects. This one has him as the title character in a Paul Greengrass film about the ship captain taken hostage by Somali pirates. Along with Catherine Keener, Hanks seems like a solid bet to make a run at a nomination.
Greengrass has been on the record about this being the best film he’s ever made, so if that’s actually true… watch out. He’s yet to really strike the Academy’s fancy in a big way, so a top notch outing here would firmly establish him as an A list filmmaker. Hanks will be the one to watch here, but the whole package could get a lot of love if all goes well.
This is really just a shot in the dark at this point folks. Some of those above films will become big hits, while some will be ignored altogether. I know I’m eager to see them all, and I’d wager to bet that you are too!
Finally, here are what I have as my initial predictions for the big eight categories at the Oscars. Take this with a huge grain of salt, but who knows…maybe the next Argo is here! Behold:
1. Captain Phillips
2. Labor Day
3. Untitled David O. Russell Abscam Project
5. The Monuments Men
6. Saving Mr. Banks
9. The Wolf of Wall Street
10. The Great Gatsby
1. Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
2. Jason Reitman- Labor Day
3. David O. Russell- Untitled ABSCAM Project
4. Alexander Payne- Nebraska
5. George Clooney- The Monuments Men
1. Matthew McConaughey- Dallas Buyers Club
2. Bruce Dern- Nebraska
3. Tom Hanks- Captain Phillips
4. Steve Carell- Foxcatcher
5. Chiwetel Ejiofor- Twelve Years A Slave
1. Meryl Streep- August: Osage County
2. Jennifer Lawrence- Serena
3. Kate Winslet- Labor Day
4. Sandra Bullock- Gravity
5. Emma Thompson- Saving Mr. Banks
Best Supporting Actor
1. Mark Ruffalo- Foxcatcher
2. Bradley Cooper- The Place Beyond the Pines
3. Joaquin Phoenix- Lowlife
4. Michael Fassbender- Twelve Years a Slave
5. Dane DeHaan- Kill Your Darlings
Best Supporting Actress
1. Amy Adams- Untitled ABSCAM Project
2. Kristen Scott Thomas- Only God Forgives
3. Sienna Miller- Foxcatcher
4. Cameron Diaz- The Counselor
5. Catherine Keener- Captain Phillips
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Labor Day (Jason Reitman)
2. Before Midnight (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater)
3. The Monuments Men (George Clooney and Grant Heslov)
4. The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)
5. Twelve Years a Slave (Steve McQueen and John Ridley)
Best Original Screenplay
1. The Counselor (Cormac McCarthy)
2. Nebraska (Bob Nelson)
3. Untitled ABSCAM Project (David O. Russell and Eric Singer)
4. Lowlife (James Gray and Rick Menello)
5. Foxcatcher (Dan Futterman)
Until next year folks!
Tags: Abscam Project, Alfonso Cuaron, Amy Adams, Argo, August: Osage County, Baz Luhrmann, Before Midnight, Bennett Miller, Bill Murray, Bradley Cooper, Bruce Dern, Captain Phillips, Cate Blanchett, Catherine Keener, Channing Tatum, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christian Bale, Cormac McCarthy, Dallas Buyers Club, David O. Russell, Devils Knot, Django Unchained, Emma Thompson, Foxcatcher, Fruitvale, George Clooney, Good Night and Good Luck, Gravity, Jason Reitman, Jean Dujardin, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, John Goodman, John Lee Hancock, John Wells, Josh Brolin, Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Kill Your Darlings, Labor Day, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lincoln, Louis C.K., Lowlife, Mark Ruffalo, Martin Scorsese, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, Meryl Streep, Michael Fassbender, Nebraska, Only God Forgives, Paul Greengrass, Ridley Scott, Sandra Bullock, Saving Mr. Banks, Serena, Seve McQueen, Shame, Shutter Island, Sienna Miller, The Blind Side, The Company Men, The Counselor, The Dark Knight Rises, The Great Gatsby, The Monuments Men, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Spectacular Now, The Wolf of Wall Street, Tobey Maguire, Tom Hanks, Twelve Years a Slave, Up in the Air, Will Forte, Zero Dark Thirty