Oscar Contenders, March 5

If you want to follow Oscars for a full year, one important skill is intuition. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can obsess over the Oscars and still not be all that good at guessing. Yet, at the same time, being able to update anticipatory lists will involve processing great amounts of inconclusive data and stumbling in the dark, gradually, to consensus. It’s fun to see what will work and why, when! how! But there is not a shortage of titles to choose from at this point. You’re safe to go with big, reliable names. The real question is to see how some potential break outs might play, Twelve Years a Slave, Fruitvale, Out of the Furnace, A Most Wanted Man. You could do worse than to play the choices by a split method at this point Mainstays/Newcomers. And sure, these terms are relative. For “mainstay” it’s a bit tough to say Martin Scorsese and George Clooney have the same amount of experience, but in terms of Oscar appearances, you could classify them similarly. But the “mainstays” I think are Scorsese, Clooney, Coens, Payne and Reitman. If picking ten, that leaves five to play around with August: Osage County seems just kinda fated to go the distance. Ridley Scott makes good movies when he has a good script. This time it’s Cormac McCarthy, so yeah. Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale is our main Sundance export. That leaves a couple spots a bit up to the imagination. I had been itching to include Afonso Cuaron’s Gravity for a prediction and now that I have, I may have to put it on the backburner until we hear more.

I will stand beside Twelve Years a Slave at this point. The main argument I hear against it is that it will take it’s subject matter too seriously. I don’t see why that’s such an issue. The only reason McQueen hasn’t been at the Oscar table yet has been his subject matter, which hasn’t really fit much into what the Oscars are usually about. Twelve Years a Slave, on the other hand, is about the type of particularly American subject that I think will get noticed. And I’ll round out with Lee Daniels’ Butler. I’m looking forward to it and believe if it picks up a receptive critical audience there won’t be any stopping it.

So here is my updated list of Oscar contenders. Ten on top and other candidates below the line:

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
August: Osage County (John Wells)
The Monuments Men (George Clooney)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers)
The Counselor (Ridley Scott)
Fruitvale (Ryan Coogler)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
Labor Day (Jason Reitman)
The Butler (Lee Daniels)
Twelve Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
Her (Spike Jonze)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)
Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock)
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)
Blood Ties (Guillaume Canet)
The Zero Theorem (Pat Rushin)
The Congress (Ari Folman)

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