Early Oscar Tips?

The Butler (2013) Forest Whitaker (Screengrab)

As the cold autumn airs begin to descend here in Britain it can only mean that the summer blockbuster season is coming to an end, and after an array of spectacular movies, the awards season is warming up. The films vying for those coveted golden statues next March may only be in the stage of releasing trailers or festival viewings but a discerning eye may be able to see what could be competing at the 86th Academy Awards.

Although I could be completely wrong in my choices, I’ve collected a list of films, judging from media hype and trailers that could be in the running next year. The great thing about the Oscars is that it’s prone to throwing up a whole load of surprises, so those that look nailed on as Oscar Gold could fall by the wayside by the start of January.

Last year, Lincoln’s subject matter and pedigree made it seem certain to walk away with the top award early in the race, but was pipped by Argo, which had an amazing run of momentum throughout the awards season. The Academy Awards were obviously surprised by the success as they infamously left Ben Affleck out of the Best Director nominations after he won every other award on the circuit.

So, please keep this in mind if you are reading this on the eve of the awards and I am completely way off. We never know what’s going to be in the final best film nominations, a lot of critics pencils have yet to be sharpened for these films whilst very little “buzz” has been generated just yet, so I’m going on a combination of gut feeling and past experience to determine films that will potentially be in the running:

The Butler:

If any film has the subject matter, the cast and the emotional stakes to be considered, then it is Lee Daniels’ drama which will be high up there come the start of next year. The director already has experience of the awards with the heart wrenching but excellent Precious and with The Butler, based loosely on the life of presidential butler Eugene Allen, he has managed to accumulate everything on the Oscar list to qualify as Best Picture winner. Oscar Winner Forest Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines who recounts his story from cotton picker to butler for no less than seven US Presidents. I expect a nomination for Whitaker, who working amidst the black power and civil rights movements that dominated these decades will have to keep the narrative flowing. The all star cast should also get critics and awards bodies excited including the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams and Alan Rickman, looking right on the money, as Ronald Reagan. Although the sentimentality could be somewhat overpowering in a film with so many different moral dilemmas and epoch defining moments, I’m sure this will be an important movie and one that will be justly rewarded at the Oscars.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor for Forest Whitaker, Best Director for Lee Daniels, Best Supporting Actor/Actress for any number of Oprah Winfrey, Alan Rickman, John Cusack, Terence Howard, James Marsden, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda and pretty much anybody else who acted in this movie.


In the last couple of weeks, the buzz for Gravity has been huge. Alfonso Cuarón’s venture into sci-fi thriller has been heralded by the critics as spectacular and is accumulating a healthy sum at the box office. A mix of claustrophobia and gripping action will see the real story taking place between the two characters as opposed to the vast expanse of space before them. George Clooney’s veteran, Lieutenant Matt Kowalski and Sandra Bullock’s rookie medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone are on a mission complicated by space debris and must find their way back to earth.  Although the Academy aren’t historically the biggest fans of science fiction, I’m sure with the impact Gravity has had, we’ll be seeing its name mentioned a few times throughout the awards season.

Potential Nominations: Best Actor for George Clooney, Best Actress for Sandra Bullock, Best Cinematography among other technical awards.

American Hustle:

David O. Russell has bought together a cast from his two last Oscar nominated films The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook to hopefully, finally win the big prize next year. A mouth watering cast including Christian Bale (Who bagged himself Best Supporting Actor last time he worked with Russell), Jennifer Lawrence (Who bagged herself Best Supporting Actress last time she worked with Russell), Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner is a sure-fire way for Russell to make it a hat trick of nominations in the last four years. A film of conmen, Femme Fatales and FBI agents in New Jersey you’d be forgiven for thinking this was Scorsese’s offering this year. However, I’m sure it’ll incorporate its own unique style and will be ripe for nomination.

Potential Nominations: Best Actor/Actress/Supporting nominations all round: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley, Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Robert De Niro, Louie C.K. Awards all around if you’re working with David O. Russell.

Captain Phillips:

Based on a true story, this tale of courage and resolve in the toughest situations will probably see Paul Greengrass’ film honoured during awards season. He’s shown in the past with United 93 that a serious, emotionally charged narrative can be taken and handled sensibly to make a well rounded yet tactful movie. All points of view can be considered within this medium, unlike news reports and documentaries that only seem to take one angle in the majority of cases. Tom Hanks plays the eponymous Captain of an unarmed freighter who is confronted by Somailian pirates. Although crew members of the real Phillips have voiced inaccuracies within the film I’m sure that for it is still handled with care and we should not forget the performances of the unknown Somailians who have a difficult job of playing terrifying pirates.

Potential Nominations: Best Film, Best Director for Paul Greengrass and Best Actor for Tom Hanks.

Saving Mr Banks:

The Oscar loves a biopic, and one about one of the most important children’s films in their industry’s history will certainly turn a few heads. Tom Hanks, this time in a more relaxed role than Captain Phillips, plays Walt Disney, who is keen to acquire the rights to P.L. Traver’s Mary Poppins, however she is not happy to see her character on the big screen, thinking Disney will, well, Disney it up. It’s such a compelling story, if you read the background before. A real tenacious battle for the rights to what has become of the most loved children’s films of the 20th century. It will be very interesting to see how Disney handles this and to see where our loyalties lie at its denouement.

Potential Nominations: Best Actress for Emma Thompson, Best Actor for Tom Hanks and Best Adapted Screenplay for Kelly Marcel.

The Wolf of Wall Street:

Scorsese and Di Caprio. A formula that has worked so well in the past and looks like it’ll continue. This is one of the most relevant films on the list at the moment. Although it is a biopic, based on Jordan Belfort’s memoirs relating to his stock market fraud there is so much synonymous with investment banking today and it will be interesting to see how this topic is handled by its director. The trailer looks kinetic, exciting and funny and if anyone can cover the story of a man going from rag to riches then face the consequences (Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Bull) it has got to be the master of his craft, Martin Scorsese. Also, Leonardo Di Caprio has yet to win an Oscar, despite being one of the finest actors in Hollywood for the past fifteen years, so could this finally be his time to win?

Potential Nominations: Best Film, Best Director for Martin Scorsese, Best Actor for Leonardo Di Caprio, Best Adapted Screenplay.

Inside Lleywn Davis:

The Coen Brothers are well liked by the Academy and most years seem to find themselves amidst the nominations. However, with Inside Lleywn Davis this looks most likely to happen again since they won in 2008 with No Country for Old Men. It has already won the Grand Prix at Cannes this year and judging by the trailer looks a real treat telling the poignant story of folk musician Lleywn Davis played by Oscar Isaac. It’s probably already certain to win a screenplay award and although dramatic I’m sure those great Coen Brothers one liners and their humour is underlying throughout.

Potential Nominations: Best Actor for Oscar Isaac as Lleywn Davis, Best Actress for Carey Milligan, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Music.

The Monuments Men:

There has been so much done with World War II with countless films depicting all possible parts and movements within this important era. With The Monuments Men though director George Clooney has seemed to unearth new ground with, citing an area that has yet to be really covered in the cinema. Adapted by the book by Robert M. Edsel it charts a group art experts in various fields as they try to reclaim pieces of art that Hitler was either destroying or hoarding from all over Europe for his master gallery. It’s a great ensemble cast with Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett. With quality like that on the screen, you just know already that it’s going to in the running for best picture. It also stars John Goodman, and if either this or Inside Lleywn Davis win the Best Picture award he would have featured in the last three winner of the award alongside Argo and The Artist.

Potential Awards: Best Film, Best Director for George Clooney, Best Adapted Screenplay for George Clooney and Grant Henslov and Take your pick for Best Actor/Actress

So, those are my choices for the time being, these, of course could change and I look forward to seeing how close I was when the nominations are revealed on 16th January. There might be a few more than manage their way into the Best Film nominations, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Jobs, Lone Survivor? Who knows? That’s why the Oscars are so exciting and unpredictable.


Author: Luke's Film Blog

I'm Luke and I love writing about movies. I shall persevere to keep expanding this blog so there's plenty of interesting content for you to explore. I hope you enjoy it. Please, take a look around and follow me on twitter @lukesfilmblog. Thanks for reading.

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