40 Potential 2014 Oscar Contenders: Part Three - 'Lowlife' to 'Place Beyond the Pines'

Hopefully each of these preview pieces are not only introducing you to the year's most likely 2014 Oscar contenders, but perhaps introducing a few films you may have not already known about or had on your radar, giving you a little something more to look forward to.

Today I offer up ten more films and we are talking movies from the likes of George Clooney, Alexander Payne, Scott Cooper and Spike Lee to name a few.

Today's installment includes James Gray's Lowlife starring Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix, then Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom featuring Idris Elba in the title role, George Clooney's The Monuments Men which just began filming in Berlin, Anton Corbijn's A Most Wanted Man, Mud from Take Shelter director Jeff Nichols and starring Matthew McConaughey, Alexander Payne's Nebraska, Spike Lee's remake of Oldboy, Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper's follow-up Out of the Furnace starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck, the JFK assassination picture Parkland and The Place Beyond the Pines with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper among others.

Yes, it's yet another packed preview and yes, that was one hell of a long run-on sentence.

So you know where you are, below is a navigation leading you to the two previous installments in this preview and I have one more coming tomorrow before I reprint the whole list in its entirety on Friday.

2014 Oscar Preview Navigation

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Complete List

Now, with all pretext out of the way, let's dig in...

Lowlife (aka Nightingale)
DIR. James Gray / TBA 2013

Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard in The Nightingale
Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner in Lowlife
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

Beyond Oscar prospects, I'm really looking forward to James Gray's Lowlife, which I wouldn't be surprised to see at the Cannes Film Festival after snippets of it screened at the Telluride Film Festival last year. Gray penned the original screenplay with Ric Menello (Two Lovers) and he's got Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix leading his cast along with already buzzed-about cinemtagraphy from Darius Khondji.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Marion Cotillard), Supporting Actor (Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix), Original Screenplay (James Gray and Ric Menello), Cinematography (Darius Khondji), Film Editing, Costumes, Production Design

STUDIO: The Weinstein Co.

CAST: Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Dagmara Dominczyk and Angela Sarafyan

SYNOPSIS: Set in the midst of turn of the century Manhattan, Lowlife centers on an impoverished Polish immigrant (Cotillard) who is driven to burlesque and prostitution to afford care for her desperately ill younger sister. While living under the control of a temperamental and cruel pimp (Phoenix), she finds hope and the promise of romance when a dashing vaudeville magician (Renner) falls for her.

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
DIR. Justin Chadwick / November 29

Clearly a Nelson Mandela story with audience favorite Idris Elba with the backing of the Weinstein Co. and a screenplay from William Nicholson (Les Miserables, Gladiator) is going to get Oscar attention, but is director Justin Chadwick the one to bring it home?

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Idris Elba), Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Adapated Screenplay (William Nicholson), Costumes (Dianna Cilliers and Ruy Filipe)

STUDIO: The Weinstein Co.

CAST: Idris Elba and Naomie Harris

SYNOPSIS: Based on Nelson Mandela's autobiography "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom", the film centers on the South African leader and President from 1994-95 and his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison...

The Monuments Men
DIR. George Clooney / December 18

It's almost not fair to everyone else when you look at the pieces that make up The Monuments Men. Directed by George Clooney who co-wrote the screenplay with Grant Heslov based on the Robert M. Edsel's book "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History" with a cast that includes Clooney, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban and Matt Damon. Don't also forget the score from Alexandre Desplat and cinematography from Phedon Papamichael. If I had to call a film my early year favorite, this is it.

The only thing I'm not sure on is who the leads of the piece are so for the acting categories I currently have no idea.

SIDE NOTE: If you live near Berlin or Potsdam and want to be in the movie, production just got underway and they are looking for about 1,500 extras.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay (Clooney and Heslov), Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, Cinematography (Phedon Papamichael), Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Costumes, Production Design

STUDIO: 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures

CAST: Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, George Clooney and Matt Damon

SYNOPSIS: The Monuments Men confronts the final chapter of Germany's rule, which came down to the absolute destruction of everything that makes a culture keep its standing, including the lives that are lost and the sacrifices that are made. All of this is in danger of being lost forever as Hitler and the Nazis try to cover the tracks of a murderous regime. A crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art that were stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.

  • david

    Hey brad let me throw my predictions out there? saw a special screening of dead man down last night it blew my mind!!!! It will get a best picture nomination noomi ropace should get a best actress nom and Terrence Howard a best supporting actor nod any comments?

    • Newbourne

      NPR accidentally posted an early review and murdered it. It called it "Dead Upon Arrival". Yeah, I don't see this going anywhere.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

        Plus I heard somewhere it was produced by the WWE, which is bizarre. . .

  • Ron Oneal Fresh

    So 'Pines' isn't Goslings' movie? seeing that you've put Cooper as the lead.

    • Bertram J. Krogh

      I was wondering this as well, and was going to make the same comment as you. I put Cooper as supporting for Pines and Ryan Gosling as lead for Only God Forgives in my predictions. But if Cooper is lead, it changes things a lot.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Don't ask too many questions when it comes to that movie.

  • thisisablogDWI

    Actually, Parkland was already picked up by Open Road Films.

  • david

    I agree with Cooper and gosling but you have to agree with me about dead man down and ropace for best actress and Howard for supporting actor

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Thornsy/ Thornsy

    Do you think Place Beyond the Pines will be able to maintain momentum all the way through next year?

  • david

    Yes I think it will thornsy as I think dead man down will be able to what do you think of dead man down thornsy?

  • Calvin

    Lowlife looks really, really good.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

    I'm very interested to see The Monuments Men, Parkland, Out of the Furnace, and The Place Beyond the Pines. I doubt the latter will receive any awards recognition, but it got good reviews out of Toronto last year.

    I agree with The Monuments Men being an early favorite, but I have the Wolf of Wall Street at #1 with the former being at #2. Clooney technically won Best Picture for Argo (he was one of the producers). However, he has been overshadowed by Affleck, so he still has a very good shot.

  • Bren

    So Parkland is gonna be just like Bobby then?

  • Dale

    This third installment is the most interesting one yet and I could get excited about any one of the ten movies, with "Parkland" at the top of the list. I've just watched the original "Oldboy" (liked it a lot) and will be keen to see how the American remake turns out (good cast). I share Brad's interest in Bruce Hornsby's score, since I'm a fan. "Monuments Men" really needs a catchier title.

  • viral

    The Monument Men has suddenly sneaked up to the top half of my most-anticipated list ! fantastic list Brad - I wish you hadnt let on that The Wolf is your No.1 :)

  • Herr Anon

    In regards to who is the lead in 'The Monuments Men', I'm guessing it might not be Clooney since in three of the four films he has directed, he has often restricted to a supporting role (to cope with the burden of directing duties) while someone else plays the lead...

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Cordia/ Cordia

    did anyone read monument's men?

    I think that movie could be hurt by argo's win this year. but it still looks like a winner to me. Lowlife has a lot of my interest, but James Gray didn't make very good movies for his last couple of movies. two lovers and we own the night weren't so good. Pines looks to be a acting movie just as brad pointed out..seeing that march 17 so i can tell more about it then. Foxcatcher looks like it could be my favourite of these movies, i loved Moneyball and Capote was good and this looks like something Miller could turn into something even better than those movies. Out of the Furnace is also on my list, but doesn't really look like typical oscar bait. but more as a movie everybody loves but the academy will look over. Nebraska is also interesting, however i didn't love the descendants and like sideways i hope it is more like sideways. and i don't think my fellow dutchman Corbijn will get a nomination with that movie, he just doesn't make oscar movies. maybe a acting nom.

  • Josh

    Hoping to see The Railway Man in Part 4.

  • http://www.fairytalepictures.wordpress.com Satu

    I don't think Monuments Men has any problems to get at least few nods. It's Clooney all the way, everybody loves him.

    Thanks, Brad, for reminding me of Out of the Furnace. I had totally forgotten it.

    And for some reason I don't have any expectations towards Lowlife. Probably because Renner's choices have been questionable lately (I like him A LOT, so it pains me to see him making Hansel&Gretel kinda stuff). But I did add it on my list.

    Unfortunately I don't believe Place Beyond the Pines will last but I can't wait to see it.

  • Ale

    You forgot to mention Tom Welling, he's playing Roy Kellerman on 'Parkland'.

  • http://facebook Marisol

    "Parkland" is my bet, love the cast and i´m really looking forward to it...but you forgot to mention Tom Welling who playes the part of "Roy Kellerman".

  • Sean Hayes

    Since Justin Chadwick and THE FIRST GRADER got so overlooked, I hope MANDELA finds its audience and gets him the recognition he deserves. Mandela also star THE FIRST GRADER's Naomie Harris who starred in SKYFALL right after Grader, so Mandela will benefit from the press... And it was written by Oscar nominated William Nicholson.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/SirTrey/ Sir Trey

    One thing you forgot about Oldboy Brad...the Academy always finds a way to screw Spike Lee. Wouldn't surprise me to see it shut out at the Oscars.