Movies Banned Across The World


I have always been interested in film censorship. I wrote my university dissertation on the Video Nasties of the 1980’s and am fascinated by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) website which I peruse frequently. I think it is a case of being interested in what is deemed suitable or not and why this is the case. Whether its sex, violence or bad language, how do we know what people can tolerate and put an age restriction on it or even ban it completely. Obviously this is different according to the censors, context and even the circumstances in a particular country.

Therefore, I decided to look at what films are deemed to be unsuitable all over the world, especially the movies that we would think to be mostly innocuous. No amount of cuts by the censor could prevent it from being banned in a certain country. I’m bypassing the movies that would be banned for obvious reasons, mostly those of sexual violence (Cannibal Holocaust, A Serbian Movie, I Spit on Your Grave, etc) so I decided to share with you all some that you probably wouldn’t expect to see in the restricted zone.


Schindler’s List – Spielberg’s Oscar winning masterpiece of modern cinema is a very hard watch due to its subject matter and intense visuals. However, it is probably one of the most important films of all time. This isn’t seen to be the case in Indonesia where censors banned it in 1994, some cite that it is due to the film being sympathetic to the Jewish cause and there is no place for it in a heavily Muslim populated region. The National Censorship Board insist however it is due to too much nudity and violence.

brief encounter

Brief EncounterBrief Encounter is, by today’s standards, massively innocuous in its treatment of an emotional love affair between two married people who meet at a train station. There’s no sex scene or heavy petting, it’s all implied within the dialogue. However, this is still too much in Ireland where the film is still banned because the movie is too “permissive of adultery”. This is a big surprise, especially if you’ve seen the movie, which is rated PG in England, but they seem to be sticking to their guns as the ban doesn’t seem to be lifting any time soon despite all the highly sexed films we see today.


Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan: Probably not too surprising, the ban has still not been lifted in Kazakhstan (as well as Russia) where it was deemed offensive. This would be in part to the opening and closing scenes that portrayed the locals as poor and stupid or rapists. Countries all over the world have been portrayed with negative and unflattering stereotypes but this was just deemed too far from Sasha Baron Cohen. Kazakhstan, however have since thanked Borat for the boost to their economy from tourism as a result of the movie’s success.


Zoolander: Another set of locals to get offended by western comedy was that of the Malaysian government who didn’t see the funny side of the movie’s plot to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister. I don’t think they were too impressed with the depiction of the sweat shops visited by Derek Zoolander either. The country has form in this area who have also banned Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.


The Wolf of Wall Street: Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning portrayal of the life of Jordan Belfort pushes all the boundaries, but looked like it pushed a few too many in Kenya where the Classification Board banned the movie citing “extreme scenes of nudity, sex, debauchery, hedonism and cursing” as the main reasons. It is against the law to watch the film within the boundaries of the country and arrests were made last year when pirate copies started to circulate which could have resulted in a couple of years in prison.


2012: Roland Emmerich’s film was not banned for being an average disaster movie but for showing the apocalypse happening in the year 2012. Although the Mayans had this in their calendar as the end of humanity for a very long time the North Koreans had a different way of thinking. Because it was the hundredth year anniversary of the birth of ‘The Great Leader’ Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il declared it was the year that North Korea was to “open the grand gates to becoming a rising superpower”. Therefore watching a film about the world’s destruction would be highly inappropriate and anyone caught watching the film was to be prosecuted. Not really worth it in my opinion, they should watch The Road instead.


The Simpsons Movie: Whether this one is genuine or not is a mystery as there isn’t enough written on the matter but apparently The Simpsons Movie and its TV show counterpart are both banned in Burma because the censors in the country don’t allow the colours yellow and red combined on screen. Baffling.

In Britain in America there are not that many films that don’t get past the censor these days, the only ones lately to have come up against some trouble here lately are The Human Centipede 2 and A Serbian Film, both of which required cuts. Every Classification Board knows the context of the society in which they live so they should be the best positioned to make these decisions but sometimes those decisions may be deemed questionable.


The Luke’s Film Blog Awards 2014

I love awards season. I love it so much that for the past three years I have been trying to get in on the action by giving my own awards (purely digitally) to the casts, the crews and the films who have made the last year great for cinema. With the BAFTA’s on Sunday and Oscar’s on their way it is the perfect time to select my own favourite actors and movies of 2013 and January of this year. I’m adding a few more categories this year to broaden the amount of films that can be represented and I hope you enjoy reading my Luke’s Film Blog Awards 2014:


Best Film: It has been a very tough year to decide a clear winner because of the sheer quantity of quality films in 2013. I could have picked five for the best film with Rush, Captain Phillips and The Wolf of Wall Street all viable possibilities. But, this year, for its majestic special effects that juxtapose so well with a personal and psychological story of survival, Gravity wins the Best Film award. On the surface, Gravity is a relatively straightforward story of one person facing the vast isolation of space and trying to get home against overwhelming odds but with masterful direction from Alfonso Cuaron and a thrilling script (co-written from Cuaron and son Jonas) that never lets up the tension it become groundbreaking. It is certainly one of the masterpieces of recent science-fiction and truly deserves all the accolades and plaudits is received from critics and at the box office alike.


Best Director: The master of his craft has added another classic to the canon and Martin Scorsese wins the Luke’s Film Blog best director award. The Wolf of Wall Street is kinetic, entertaining and thrilling. Not many director’s can fill three hours of cinema without wasting a frame but Scorsese succeeds and gets some great performances out of Di Caprio, Hill and McConaughey. You can’t take your eyes away from the screen and if you do you’re in danger of missing out on a beautiful looking scene. The whole film is aesthetically astonishing no matter how dark the subject matter can get and that is down to Scorsese.


Best Actor: Shunned at the Academy Awards in which he’s already won two, Tom Hanks surely deserves some credit for his outstanding and very real portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips based on the true story of a cargo ship captain who is taken captive by armed Somalian pirates. Hanks truly excels in the subtleties of his performance. One look from Hanks can tell the audience everything about his fear and isolation and the vulnerability in the final scene shows how iconic an actor he is.


Best Actress: Like the Best Actor, the Best Actress is another whose character faces obstacles of nature, isolation and psychological issues. Another one of the reasons why Gravity was such a masterpiece was its performances from the leads and Sandra Bullock carries the film. Its easy to get lost amidst huge special effects but Bullock’s vulnerably combined with the verisimilitude of her performance are the reasons she deserves to win.


Best Supporting Actor: Another, like Hanks, who was denied a nomination was another interpretation of a real person. Rush didn’t feature much at all in any of the awards but it was a terrific film and one of the reasons for this was the performance of Daniel Bruhl. Playing Niki Lauda, Bruhl was cold and calculated but still engaging. In his rivalry with fellow Formula One driver James Hunt, played by Chris Hemworth, Bruhl demonstrated a great range of acting skills from arrogance to sympathy while always keeping us interested in his character’s story.


Best Supporting Actress: David O. Russell is an actor’s director. He cares far more about the intricacy and complexity of his characters opposed to his plot and this shows in his films. Particularly in American Hustle where he assembles four actors from his past two films (The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook) that have all been Oscar Nominated. Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams are all fantastic in American Hustle but the stand out is Jennifer Lawrence yet again. Winning the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook last year, she now returns as the trophy wife to Bale’s largely absent husband and is fantastic. Lawrence is quickly becoming the best actress of her generation and really possesses some of the great qualities of actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It’s getting scary how talented she is at such a young age, but what a performance yet again.


Best Ensemble: Last year’s winner of this category was the cast of Avenger’s Assemble, however the cast of This Is The End are definitely the antithesis of superheros. Playing exaggerated versions of themselves, stars like Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchul, Craig Ferguson and Danny McBride star in this wonderfully entertaining movie as they are confined to James Franco’s house while the Apocalypse is happening. They may be terrible people in some scenes but remain massively funny and likable throughout which helped This Is The End become the funniest film of the year.


Best Original Screenplay:  Stoker was a fantastic psyschological thriller that really came out of the blue. It was shocking, exciting and provided some fantastic performances from Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode. More shocking was that it was written by none other than Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller whose chilling script is superbly written. Influenced by Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, Miller’s script mixes genres but never relents in its tension. It has a very unique style and with the directorial skills of Park Chan-Wook this became one of the best films of 2013.


Best Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter’s script for The Wolf of Wall Street is fast, very funny and relates Jordan Belfort’s memoir perfectly to present day economical matters. All of the characters are complex and really bring their real life compatriots to life. With some of the best and most memorable dialogue committed to film in the last decade, Winter thoroughly deserves a huge amount of credit for his wonderful script.


Best Superhero Movie: The Superhero genre doesn’t look likely to go away any time soon and therefore I’ve decided to begin my first genre based category for the best superhero movie. We have been lucky this year with some interesting and exciting offerings like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World but the Luke’s Film Blog award goes to Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Rebooting the franchise after Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns failed to impress the masses, Man of Steel was hugely entertaining, and although we can joke about the huge amount of collateral damage, a truly enjoyable blockbuster that I thought deserves a great deal of credit.

So, there are my awards for the year. I’m sure 2014 is going to be a hugely successful year for film with a combination of blockbusters and independent movies to look forward to so keep going to the cinema and watching as many of them as possible and I’ll be back with my annual awards next February. Until then, watch some actual awards being given out with the BAFTA awards on Sunday evening.

Here are the links to my previous awards blogs:

Luke’s Film Blog Awards 2013

Luke’s Film Blog Awards 2012




The Ascendancy of McConaughey


Few actors in Hollywood have had such a varied career as Matthew McConaughey. The critical highs and lows of his body of work are unprecedented and his rise from rom-com  staple to respectable, Academy Award nominated actor leaves many of us asking ourselves, how did this happen? How did McConaughey transform from an actor more known for taking his shirt off and being critically hammered into a versatile, likable actor who is developing a huge cult fanbase from his recent performances?

McConaughey always had the potential which was seen early in his career as Richard Linklater cast him in Dazed and Confused as David Wooderson, a stoner, drop out who doesn’t lack charm. The director initially thought McConaughey too handsome for the role but an outstanding performance meant his role was expanded hugely. The trademark, Southern accent allowed him to stand out amidst a crowd that included Ben Affleck, Jason London and Parker Posey. Some of the most memorable lines from the much loved film come from McConaughey’s Texan drawl including probably the most iconic line “That’s what I love about these college girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” He delivers it marvelously, you believed his character and you believed this actor was going to go on to great things.


With the world as his oyster a host of directors wanted Matthew’s talents. Joel Schumacher cast him as the lead in the adaptation of the John Grisham novel A Time To Kill. It was certainly a solid performance although the film is mainly remembered for Samuel L. Jackson playing a man accused of murdering two men who killed his daughter and delivering the famous line “Yes they deserve to die, and I hope they burn in Hell!” Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg also hired McConaughey in Contact and Amistad respectively. The latter a better and more memorable performance than the former. Matthew’s early career was solid although unremarkable making safer films that do fairly well at the Box Office like U-571, The Wedding Planner, Larger Than Life and Edtv.

By the early noughties it looked as if McConaughey was content with playing it safe, making his money and then doing the next film. Frailty and Reign of Fire, each had their charms but they weren’t going to win any acting awards any time soon. However, I do have to say that McConaughey, almost unrecognisable in Reign of Fire was great fun and his death scene still counts as one of my favourites. He plodded along with rom-com How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days before one of the worst films of his career.

Sahara was an absolute disaster. Adapted from the books by Clive Cussler, the aim was to reinvent Indiana Jones for the modern age. It was going to be fronted by McConaughey as Dirk Pitt and was hoping to be a cash cow for Paramount who dreamed of a myriad of sequels as we follow our ‘new favourite action hero’ on a series of adventures. The problem was it was boring, pointless and lacked a combination of humour and heart. I know not everybody shares the anomosity that I do with 39% of people deeming it acceptable on Rotten Tomatos but I only stayed awake through Sahara by sheer hatred of the movie. I thought it was a waste of a story and I expected better from actors I admired like Steve Zahn, Penelope Cruz and William H Macy. Sahara made a huge loss at the box office, failing to recoup a large amount of its $160 million budget, which doomed prospects of any future installments of the series. Sahara was dead and McConaughey’s career wasn’t looking too healthy either.


McConaughey went back to the format he had seen success with before, the romantic comedy. He went into the wilderness for five years with the odd rom-com coming out every so often. It garnered a wage and a critical bashing like the ones he’d seen before wasn’t as likely, especially for Sahara. Although these films were uninspiring they were too low on the critics’ radars to produce any actual scorn. So we saw the unremarkable Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past come and go with only an entertaining cameo in Tropic Thunder, that was originally written for Owen Wilson, to enjoy. We were all expecting this to continue and for the talents of Matthew McConaughey to be ultimately wasted.

But at the turn of the decade in 2011, directors started casting McConaughey again. He was veering away from the predictable rom-coms and trying new genres and characters. First, he played a lawyer again, but this time with a darker edge than that of his character in A Time To Kill. The Lincoln Lawyer bursted onto the scene and we saw the forgotten actor back with a vengeance in a terrific perfomance. In quick succession came a reunion with Richard Linklater in Bernie and then the performance that changed McConaughey forever, Killer Joe.

William Friedkin’s movie based on Tracy Lett’s play was one of the darkest performances you could ask for as McConaughey plays the epoynmous police detective/contract killer. His presence throughout the film is menacing yet likable until the film’s horrific denouement in which he transforms into this real monster. However, he still portrays the humour and humanity of the character in a scene which lasts in the memory and will make you think twice the next time you fancy a KFC.


McConaughey shot straight to the top of the A-List again with performances in the independent film Mud and Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike. This led to the movie that now sees him Oscar nominated, and reunited with Sahara co-star Steve Zahn. Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story as McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, an AIDs patient in the 1980s who smuggles medicine, that helps with the condition, into Texas. A strong, powerful performance where he lost a huge amount of weight. Dallas Buyers Club very well could win the Oscar, he has already won a Golden Globe for the performance, which would cap off one of the biggest career renaissances in history.

Scene stealing cameos opposite Leonardo Di Caprio in The Wolf of Wall Street continue to increase a fan base that is ever growing. These recent terrific performances will come to a head when McConaughey will star in the lead of a Christopher Nolan film. One of the most anticipated movies of the year, Interstellar will secure McConaughey’s reputation of one of the greatest actors in cinema today in what has been a journey full of highs and lows.

The 2014 Oscar Nominations Recap


Yesterday, the world watched as Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Chris Hemsworth announced the nominations for the 86th Academy Awards. There was the expected, with 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle leading the way; there was the unexpected as Tom Hanks missed out on a best acting gong for his remarkable performance in Captain Phillips; and there was a strange neglect of The Coen Brothers’ Inside Lleywn Davis which didn’t make it into the Best Film nine. With some of the categories being the closest to call in years let’s hope this is the most unpredictable Oscars of recent times and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way. I’m going to take a closer look at some of the categories:

Best Film:

Like the last two years, nine films have been nominated in the big category. Personally I would love Gravity to win, and considering it was not only groundbreaking but most people’s favourite film of last year think it stands a great chance. The biggest obstacle it faces is the Academy, who have not been known to vote for science fiction (Star Wars losing out to Rocky and Gandhi triumphing over E.T for instance) and could look elsewhere for their best picture.


12 Years a Slave screams out everything the Academy have been known to look for in a Best Film including hard hitting subject matter, powerful performances and a period setting and is looking like the front runner for now, especially after its victory at the Golden Globes. But who knows, American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street have that high tempo, edgy scripts and perfect ensembles that the modern audiences crave and could be the top movie on the night. Like Argo showed us, we never know until the awards season really gets going and maybe Nebraska or Dallas Buyers Club could accumulate some Oscar buzz and run away with it. Then there’s Captain Phillips, Philomena and Her, all outstanding films, however, I wish the Best Film category will revert back to five films sooner rather than later as it doesn’t feel as special when there are nine or ten and filling the catergory with movies that are excellent but very unlikely to win is slightly pointless.

Best Director:

A real battle of the juggernauts here, a combination of The Master of his craft as Martin Scorsese is nominated for Wolf of Wall Street, the new kid on the block Steve McQueen, who after powerful pieces Hunger and Shame finds himself among the nominations and the innovative, modern directors who have made some spectacular pieces of cinema. David O. Russell has been the darling of the Oscars in recent years with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, and now combining his cast of the two is here with American Hustle which could cap off this hat-trick of nominations with a win.  Alexander Payne also makes the shortlist again with Nebraska after being there as recently as 2012 with The Descendents and Alfonso Cuaron makes the list for his masterpiece Gravity. I would love to see Scorsese win another Oscar, not only for his services to cinema but because he is still making amazing, interesting and original cinema like The Wolf of Wall Street and is one of the few directors in which going to one of his new films constitutes”an event”.


Best Actor:

For whatever reason Tom Hanks was not among the nominees for his role of Richard Phillips, a performance in which his last ten minutes alone could justify an award. However the Best Actor category still contains a huge amount of talent and every actor deserves their place. Leonardo Di Caprio, who amazingly still hasn’t won an Oscar despite being the biggest actor on the world for fifteen years, is nominated for his portrayal of Jordan Belfort in Wolf and could walk away with the prize, how long can they continue to snub the actor of a generation? Chistian Bale and Chiwetel Ejiofor are showing how great the British can act in American Hustle and 12 Years respectively but I really think the real fight will be between the legendary Bruce Dern for his wonderful role in Nebraska and Matthew McConaughey’s powerhouse performance in the real life story Dallas Buyers Club as Ron Woodroof.

EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto film scenes together for The Dallas Buyers Club in New Orleans.

For me McConaughey has been on a huge journey in the last ten years. In 2004 he starred in the abysmal Sahara, I remember grinding my teeth through every excruciating moment. He wasn’t getting the right roles and was being parodied and mocked for his lack of versatility and taking off his shirt at every opportunity. Now though, after his inspirational performances in The Lincoln Lawyer, Mud, Killer Joe and The Wolf of Wall Street he now sees himself as the lead in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and on the verge of an Oscar, so for me it’ll be McConaughey’s year.

Best Actress:

I think betting has probably stopped on Cate Blanchett winning the Best Actress award for her role in Blue Jasmine as a woman who descends into poverty and madness. Since critics first saw Woody Allen’s film they have already pretty much given Blanchett the Oscar without the ceremony. There is some strong competition though with Judi Dench as the eponymous Philomena Lee and Sandra Bullock whose performance of isolation and fear in Gravity was layered and intense. Meryl Streep finds her way onto the list, like she always seems to do with August: Osage County and Amy Adams, the only actor here not to have won an Academy Award, is nominated for her second David O. Russell film in  a row with American Hustle.


Best Supporting Actor:

A real mix of actors here, some old and some new to the category. Barkhad Abdi, in his first acting role as the Somalian Pirate Muse in Captain Phillips, is my personal favourite to win. He managed to convey the trials of a pirate in a third world country with his powerful performance and takes a potential one dimensional foe into a rich, terrifying and memorable character. Michael Fassbender as slave owner Epps in 12 Years a Slave may also surprise one or two. Jonah Hill, Jared Leto and Bradley Cooper make up the nominations which, on the whole, contains a much younger demographic than most years. I must say that Daniel Bruhl’s absence for his role of Niki Lauda in Rush is beyond bafflement. He was interesting and really bought the character to life. Maybe the Academy thought after awarding this category to the same German twice in recent years with Christoph Waltz they wanted to have a change. That’s the only reason I could find for Bruhl not being nominated.


Best Supporting Actress:

It’ll be a tough task to look beyond newcomer Lupita Nyong’o whose striking performance in 12 Years a Slave has all the critics buzzing. However, she faces tough competition from Jennifer Lawrence, last year’s winner for Silver Linings Playbook who, reunited with director David O. Russell in American Hustle, is already an awards veteran already at 23 years old. These two will most liklely be fighting out but never rule out Julia Roberts, Sally Hawkins and June Squibb who could very much cause a surprise and go forth truimphant.


The Best of the Rest:

The writing categories are very close to call but I think the Adapted Screenplay will be a tussle between John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave and Terence Winter with The Wolf of Wall Street. I would hope Best Original Screenplay would truly award originality with either Spike Jonze or Bob Nelson winning with Her or Nebraska respectively.


In the foreign language category, unfortunately, The Hunt is the only film I’ve seen. It’s strange not seeing Blue Is The Warmest Colour within the nominees but obviously it was too risque for the conservative voters. However, The Hunt is a great film with a fine central performance from Mads Mikkelsen and a gripping premise which would be a worthy winner of any award.

In terms of the technical awards, especially Best Special Effects, Gravity should surely clean up the majority of them considering how amazing it looked and sounded. Among these awards would include Best Cinemoatography for Emmanual Lubezki. A mention must be given though to the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins who has received his eleventh Academy Award nomination for Prisoners. The man behind the lens of The Shawshank Redemption and the bulk of the Coen Brothers’ back catalogue has never won, but we live in hope one day he will get his due for his astounding work to capture the images that live long in the memory.

Who knows how it will go, the buzz will continue and the Oscars creep ever closer we know that its going to be a very exciting awards season and a great time for film. 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, who can guess at this point? A great time to be a film fan.

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.