Oscars 2014 Begins… Now!

Oscar season 2014 starts… now. The drawn out process of awards season lends itself to not sticking around too long after the show (And besides the big story is, a very divided year, winners get between 1 and 4 overall). By the Oscars date we’re ushered somewhat well into the next film year and even though I love the Oscars season, it does feel time to move on pretty quickly. So, sure it’s early, perhaps obsessively early, but the idea of this particular Oscar site is to chronicle a process. There will come a time when nominees are locked, several winners are locked. I’m fascinated by how and when that happens.

So I will begin a weekly (mostly on Mondays) top ten, updated to the changing times. Although many of these already have plenty of buzz, we’re still in early out fog. Yet, that makes this all the more fun. I begin the search with particular directors that have become Oscar institutions. Scorsese and the Coen’s have gotten to the point where any of their major efforts will most likely get nominated. Not a bad thing. Really, so long as The Wolf of Wall Street and Inside Llewn Davis get the reviews, they’ll be there. Ridley Scott is not quite as consistent, but The Counselor’s subject, cast, screenwriter (Cormac McCarthy) is tough to resist. Fruitvale is the big Sundance winner, as well as a Weinstein movie. Winning the first big award of 2013 puts it heavily in the running. It fills a certain type of nominated, not winning Oscar slot. Reitman is capable of doing “lighter” stuff like Young Adult a bit too out of the Oscar mold, but Labor Day appears to have the gravitas, especially with Kate Winslet. Though Clooney’s recent efforts have not quite lived up to the quality needed for a BP nod, I think he’s due for something a little more worthwhile.

For many of these I’m going with bare intuition. Certain selections I’ve included while leaving others out. I feel like Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity has been brewing for quite some time, always sticking out in my mind. I don’t think the delay is a bad thing. They’re giving it time and picking the right moment I think. Steve McQueen should find a more receptive Oscar audience with Twelve Years a Slave, plus Brad Pitt should help things along nicely. It’s obviously not all that far fetched to include Woody Allen. It all depends on what level he’s working out. The concept seems like one to put him back in the spotlight. Finally, I am also going out on a limb somewhat for The Butler. Lee Daniels’ last was not well received and time hasn’t been kind to Precious. Nonetheless, I would think the concept here will rein in some of his weaknesses. Plus, the cast is pretty astounding. Plus, it’s a Weinstein movie. I’m thinking about The Butler and Greenvale as the Weinstein’s 2 next year.

In the end, I’m not confident about Saving Mr. Banks. It feels like another Hyde Park or My Week with Marilyn, and I just won’t get roped into predicting those types again. Alexander Payne’s should easily be one to think about, but I can’t get past the casting of Bruce Dern and Will Forte. I really can’t see those two courting the Academy well. I’m not quite sure why August: Osage County seems to be getting its buzz, I’m not sure what exactly the draw will be. The cast, including Meryl Streep looks okay, depending if Julia Roberts has some return to form. The writer makes me think it’s a bit on the campier side. Plus, it’s led by a fairly unproven director. Nonetheless, I will include those and a few other potential candidates under the 10 line. I want to root for Her from Spike Jonze, I just think he hasn’t had a great track record with the Academy on Picture. It seems more like a Screenplay/Acting nominee generator. Okay, forget it, here is the process. I’m putting it in anyways. I could see that being a personal favorite to root for… So gonna put it in there anyways. It could go the way of The Master, but we’ll see. Since The Butler is probably too big to fail, I’ll have to put out Woody Allen. Not an easy choice, but he might not quite be due for it. Midnight in Paris was a pretty big deal to make it all the way from a Summer release, including opening Cannes. So, it’s gonna be tougher to see happening maybe for this one.

So before we get into the Cannes line-up and the Summer festivals, we’ll kick it all off here. Last year 4 of my 10 went on to a Best Picture nomination. 2 which were obvious: Les Mis/Lincoln and 2 that were more succesful guesses: Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty. Anyways, hope I do better with these.

I am going to go ahead and select The Wolf of Wall Street as my overall #1. All the elements seem to be there, and besides it looks like it will be a fantastic effort from Scorsese. It’s easily the stand out at this point in the game. We’ll watch it eagerly for updates.

So I look forward to another Oscar season to track. The past one was quite dramatic and brought many unexpected moments. We’ll try and keep up with the zeitgeist as it goes this year.

Oscars 2014 Picks (2/25/13):

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
The Counselor (Ridley Scott)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers)
Fruitvale (Ryan Coogler)
Labor Day (Jason Reitman)
The Monuments Men (George Clooney)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)
Twelve Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
Her (Spike Jonze)
The Butler (Lee Daniels)

Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
August: Osage County (John Wells)
Foxcatcher(Bennett Miller)
Lowlife (James Gray)
Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)
A Most Wanted Man (Anton Corbijn)
Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper)
The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann)

And I probably won’t keep up with it as systematically, spitballing Director:

Martin Scorsese
Joel & Ethan Coen
Ridley Scott
George Clooney
Jason Reitman… though that’s just spitballing, should things go their way, Woody Allen, Steve McQueen or even Ryan Koogler could certainly be contenders…

Wouldn’t be a bad group eh?

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