Obviously predicting the Oscars this early in the year is virtually impossible, but you have to start somewhere and one of my goals in redesigning the site last year was to make it possible to create an admin where I could predict the Oscars virtually year round rather than waiting. Certainly, it makes for longer lists and a little more work, but considering this is all about the fun of predicting I felt it was worth it.
So, today we take our first look at the Best Picture category at the 2014 Oscars where I have 40 films currently competing for up to ten slots in the Best Picture race. As the year goes on, we all know these 40 films will likely whittle down to about 15-20 if not fewer, but for now it's early enough where we can count on a lot more than that and also count on a few being added we might not be thinking of at the moment.
These predictions are largely based on those involved from the director, cast and screenwriter as well as the studio distributing the feature. The strength and size of the story matters as well this early in the game before people have had a chance to weigh in and before any conversation surrounding the film can be determined.
Just like last year I will periodically update the list throughout the year, moving films up and down the list as they play at festivals, are reviewed by critics and as the audience begins to weigh in with their thoughts. Most likely the movement will be slight at the beginning of the year, but with Cannes coming in May there is no better time to get a jump start on the awards season than now as I'm sure Cannes will add a couple to the mix, if not bump a few of these a little higher.
First for Monuments Men, you're looking at an adaptation of Robert M. Edsel's book "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History" with a screenplay written by Clooney and Grant Heslov, a writing duo nominated before for screenplays for Good Night, and Good Luck. and The Ides of March. Clooney was previously nominated as director of Good Night, and Good Luck. and he co-stars in this film with Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban and Matt Damon. All of this in a film set during World War II and dealing with the rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves. This has Oscar written all over it.
While Seth MacFarlane made a joke about the disappearance of Jean Dujardin after he won an Oscar for his performance in The Artist in 2011, one thing Monuments Men and Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street has in common is Dujardin. Could he end up being a good luck charm for one of these films?
Wolf of Wall Street is also based on a true story, this time Jordan Belfort's tell-all autobiography with Scorsese teaming for the fifth time with Leonardo DiCaprio where he'll play a Long Island penny stockbroker who served 20 months in prison for refusing to cooperate in a massive 1990s securities fraud case that involved widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world, including mob infiltration. Joining DiCaprio are a few names you may recognize such as Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Julie Andrews, Jon Favreau, Matthew McConaughey and Shea Whigham. Top that off with a screenplay from "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Sopranos" scribe Terence Winter and you have a major Oscar contender.
I've gone over each and every film on this list in my "40 Potential 2014 Oscar Contenders" list so I'm not going to detail every single one of them again, but as far as those I currently have in my top nine, here they are along with a few added details:
3.) Saving Mr. Banks - Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. Another no-brainer contender, but can Hancock deliver twice?
4.) Captain Phillips - Hey look, it's Tom Hanks again and this time he's with Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum) in the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.
5.) Out of the Furnace - Scott Cooper directs his first film since Crazy Heart from a Blacklist script by Brad Inglesby starring Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe and Forest Whitaker.
6.) Untitled David O. Russell/Abscam Project - Including this one was a bit of a question mark considering its chances of hitting theaters this year are slim and including it means another film is bumped out of the nomination list. However, it can't go unaccounted for. We'll know soon enough if it's going to make it to theaters this year or not, so for now it remains.
7.) Foxcatcher - Bennett Miller's follow-up to Moneyball starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo in another based on a true story feature with a screenplay from screenwriters Dan Futterman (Capote) and E. Max Frye.
8.) Fruitvale - Last year it was Beasts of the Southern Wild, before that Winter's Bone and The Kids are Alright and before that Precious. A small, but impressive film out of Sundance always seems to stick around throughout the year and make an impact. Fruitvale is likely to be that film this year.
9.) Rush - The final slot was a tough one, but I decided on Ron Howard's Formula 1 feature starring Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers) and Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds). Howard hasn't directed a film with serious Oscar ambition since 2008's Frost/Nixon and if that film can score a Best Picture nomination I have to believe this one is nearly a shoo-in.
I will begin taking a look at the acting categories and Best Director also this week, so stay tuned.
Additionally, if you don't have a free RopeofSilicon account you may want to register for one. Later this year, all contenders below the Bubble Line and not among my projected nominees will only be visible to logged in and registered members of the site. So if you haven't registered yet, you may as well do so now. It only takes a second.