By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 15, 2013 at 12:18PM
Track record: In its three year history, Relativity has managed a single nom (for last year's "Mirror Mirror" and its costume design).
2013 MVP: "Out of the Furnace." Sight unseen, Scott Cooper's follow-up to "Crazy Heart" most definitely seems like Relativity's sole shot at awards glory this year. Its got a great case (Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson), and a director that helped bring Jeff Bridges an Oscar a few years back... Though buzz has been pretty muted so far (it world premieres at AFI next month).
Other possibilities: "Free Birds" is a dark horse in the animated feature race.
Track record: "Winter's Bone" is definitely Roadside's biggest Oscar success story in its six year history, though they also managed to factor in with "Margin Call," "Biutiful," "Albert Nobbs" and "The Cove."
2013 MVP: "All Is Lost." JC Chandor's nearly silent survival tale is assured a best actor nomination for Robert Redford, and could sneak into a few other major races as well.
Other possibilities: Lionsgate co-release "Mud" is a critical and commercial hit that could creep into the race (and deservedly so), while Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell" is a good bet for a documentary nomination.
Track record: "The Social Network," "Moneyball" and "Zero Dark Thirty" have helped give Big Sony three best picture nominations in a row, though they haven't won the big prize since "Gandhi" back in 1982.
2013 MVP: For now, we'll say "Captain Phillips." The Somalian pirates thriller is a hit with critics and now at the box office, and is a very safe bet for best picture, with best director and best actor strong possibilities as well.
Other possibilities: We say for now because David O. Russell's "American Hustle" could definitely be Sony's all-star come December, we just haven't seen it yet. We'd actually be quite surprised if the studio didn't end up with two best picture nominations given George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" is also on the way, and could also be quite the Oscar juggernaut.
Sony Pictures Classics
Track record: "Midnight in Paris" and "Amour" have given SPC two straight best picture nominations and wins for screenplay and foreign language film (the latter category they've now won four years in a row).
2013 MVP: "Blue Jasmine." Woody Allen's latest could make it three in a row for SPC and best picture, and at the very least gives it a best actress nominee (and potential winner) in Cate Blanchett.
Other possibilities: Loads. "Before Midnight" should get a screenplay nom, "The Past" and "Wadjda" have great shots to continue the foreign language film tradition, while "Tim's Vermeer" could factor into the best documentary race.
Track record: Nominated for "Les Miserables" last year, Universal has otherwise not managed a best picture nomination since 2008's "Frost/Nixon," and hasn't won since their back-to-back Dreamworks collaborations "A Beautiful Mind" and "Gladiator"
2013 MVP: "Rush." Ron Howard's Formula 1 racing biopic had very strong reviews and respectable awards buzz coming out of Toronto, though its lackluster box office upon release has hurt it since. It still has a good shot at some technical nods, though, and a best supporting actor bid for Daniel Bruhl.
Other possibilities: "Despicable Me 2" could get an animated feature nomination, while Peter Berg's war film "Lone Survivor" -- getting a
qualifying release on December 27th -- could surprise.
Warner Brothers Pictures
Track record: WB led the way last year with "Argo," and have had a best picture nominee every year since 2005.
2013 MVP: "Gravity." That track record will certainly continue with Alfonso Cuarón's hugely successful (both with critics and the box office) film, a shoo-in for best picture, best director, best actress and multiple tech prizes.
Other possibilities: Spike Jonze's "Her" was very well received out the New York Film Festival and has a good shot at some major nominations (the most interesting of which is a supporting actress bid for a voice-only performance by Scarlett Johannson), while "Prisoners" and the second "Hobbit" movie could get a nod or two as well.
The Weinstein Company
Track record: Harvey and company have been on a roll lately, winning two of the last three best picture races and four lead acting trophies in the last three years (for Colin Firth, Jean Dujardin, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence, respectively).
2013 MVP: Tough to say, but probably "August: Osage County." It doesn't quite seem like the Weinsteins have the kind of slate they've road to multiple trophies in past years, but John Wells' adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play has an excellent shot at a few acting bids, and a decent one at best picture.
Other possibilities: "Lee Daniels' The Butler" also has a very good shot at a best picture bid, and is assured a nod for Oprah Winfrey's supporting performance. Beyond that, "Philomena," "Fruitvale Station" and "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom" could all factor into a few races, with Judi Dench and Octavia Spencer's performances near-sure things for the first two.
Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Writer and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.
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