A month after my first batch of Oscar predictions, my sentiments about this season are summed up in this paragraph from just one of Mark Harris’s brilliant Oscar posts on Grantland:
In September, I got some ribbing from colleagues for saying it was too early to make predictions. I hope I don’t cause any of them to have an aneurysm by ever so gently saying it again two months later. At the very least, can we stipulate that Variety‘s pronouncement that 2013 offers “more terrific awards possibilities than ever” feels slightly out of sync with the fare at your local multiplex, which is playing Free Birds, Last Vegas, Ender’s Game, and Bad Grandpa?
Right now I can go out and recommend a half dozen great movies that are playing in places outside New York and L.A.. But the disconnect between “Oscar talk and real-world moviegoers,” as Harris also mentions, is built not just on hyperbole. As Oscar world has hit its lull between the time when “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” come out, pundits have grown tired discussing “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips” right as these movies need it most.
Movies like “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Nebraska” and “All is Lost” are encountering the same problem because everyone who matters saw these movies MONTHS ago at Cannes. I mean honestly, who hasn’t seen “Inside Llewyn Davis” yet? Oh, everyone.
My latest set of predictions doesn’t have much in ways of changes, and that’s more of the reason why it’s easy to become bored of all this. But I was able to see a few more films like “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Blue is the Warmest Color” and “All is Lost” to confirm what the pundits already knew or suspected.
Now in just a few days, the critics will weigh in and nominations from the Indie Spirits and Golden Globes will begin rolling in and dictating the shape of the season all over again. Until then, here’s going with the flow:
* Designates a movie I’ve seen
Bulleted entries are Dark Horse candidates ranked in likelihood of getting in
Inside Llewyn Davis – CBS Films
- 12 Years a Slave*
- Captain Phillips*
- Saving Mr. Banks
- Inside Llewyn Davis*
- August: Osage County*
- Lee Daniels’ The Butler*
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- American Hustle
- Dallas Buyers Club*
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- All is Lost*
- Blue Jasmine*
- Before Midnight*
- Fruitvale Station*
A month ago I worried that “Inside Llewyn Davis” might be ignored by the Academy, a slight Coen entry that would be overlooked by big Oscar bait like “12 Years,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Butler” and “August: Osage County.” Now before the critics have even had their say, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is riding a small wave of anticipation as “August” and “The Butler” buckle under the weight of their casts and their reviews. It seems like a lock compared to the question marks that are “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The other strong entry of course is “Nebraska,” which I feared would have the same fate. That film however, also a Cannes entry, has now reminded everyone that it is a genuine crowd pleaser that will scratch just the right itch in this Academy demographic.
Unfortunately for “All is Lost,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Before Midnight” or “Her,” those two movies in my mind take up the “indie” spots that the Academy now reserves. And if any were to bump out “The Butler” or “August” it would be “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Philomena” or a real Academy shocker in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” movies that are more Oscar friendly and could use the help.