With Labour Day weekend marking the end of the summer movie season, we are officially moving into the fall calendar where we will see film after film gunning for Oscar nominations. Major contenders have already emerged from the Venice and Telluride film festivals last week (Gravity, 12 Years A Slave), but what are those films and performances that have already been released that could be remembered and factor into this year’s Oscar nominations?
The Academy loves Woody Allen, and his summer hit will surely be on Oscar’s list. Cate Blanchett is a major frontrunner for Best Actress for her towering performance as a struggling New York socialite. Expect Allen’s script to turn up in the Screenplay category, and the film might even crack Best Picture, along with Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannavale in the Supporting categories.
The movie that has had buzz around it since it was screened at Sundance in January hit theatres this summer, and performed decent enough at the box office to possibly be a factor. It’s going to struggle to be remembered amongst bigger films, but critic groups’ awards should help it keep a profile. Michael B. Jordan is its strongest bet in Best Actor.
Lee Daniel’s The Butler
The civil rights drama has managed to top the box office for the past few weeks, so there’s no way this one is getting ignored. Oprah Winfrey is basically a lock for a Best Supporting Actress nomination, and Forest Whitaker could very well be back in the Best Actor category that he won in 2007. Since it will hit $100 million at the box office, you can expect it to grab a Best Picture nomination as well.
Harrison Ford, 42
Also overperforming at the box office was this spring’s 42, the story of Jackie Robinson. When the reviews came out, most singled out Ford’s work as baseball manager Branch Rickey. Ford is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and he’s never won an Oscar. People still complain that he was snubbed for 1993’s The Fugitive (while Tommy Lee Jones won for that film). With his performance here, Ford had some of the best reviews of his career, he’s a veteran (and the Academy loves to honour those in Best Supporting Actor), and the film was a hit. The release date is Ford’s only problem. If voters do remember him, he’ll be a big contender in Best Supporting Actor.
The Way Way Back
This indie film didn’t have the legs of Little Miss Sunshine or Juno, so it won’t be cracking the Best Picture list, but it did well enough both critically and commercially, that its screenplay could be remembered. Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney got a whole lot of raves for their supporting work, but they’ll probably seem like lightweight contenders once we see more contenders.
The Great Gatsby
Leonardo DiCaprio should be remembered for his wonderful work in Baz Luhrmann’s colourful adaptation, but Leo has the much more likely contender, Wolf Of Wall Street (directed by Martin Scorsese) coming soon. He’ll be pushed to get his nomination for that. The Great Gatsby will be remembered at the Oscars for its costume design, production design, and its music. Lana Del Ray could grab a nomination for her wonderful song “Young And Beautiful”.
Leo’s co-star in Wolf Of Wall Street, Matthew McConaughey, had a surprise hit this spring with the indie flick Mud. The film could grab a screenplay nomination, but this won’t be McConaughey Oscar vehicle. He’s got Dallas Buyers Club coming out, which features his (much-publicized) performance as a HIV-positive electrician, where Matthew lost a ton of weight.
The second film in this trilogy, Before Sunset, grabbed a Screenplay nomination for Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, and Richard Linklater, and given the reception for this third film, there’s no reason to think that they won’t be contenders again.
Monsters University and Despicable Me 2
While neither film had stellar enough reviews to get a Best Picture nomination, both these animated flicks were massive hits at the box office, so you can bet both sequels will turn up in the Best Animated Feature category.
And of course, we’ll see the summer action flicks like Iron Man 3, Elysium, Pacific Rim, World War Z and Star Trek Into Darkness turn up in the visual effects and sound categories.
Who are you hoping to see remembered at Oscar time?