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For Your Consideration: A Mid-Year Stab At The Oscar Race

For Your Consideration: A Mid-Year Stab At The Oscar Race

It’s been roughly four months since Indiewire’s coverage of the
mammoth 2012-2013 awards season came to an end. Our For Your
Consideration column has laid dormant ever since, its most recent
edition an year-in-advance stab at what might become of the next
awards season. But with the Venice Film Festival and Toronto Film
Festival just two months away, “next” is soon to be now. Thus, we
welcome you to a special mid-year edition of our For Your
Consideration column, which will run regularly beginning in September.

This focus of this particular column is not a preview of what’s to
come, but what we already know from the year’s first six months whether
via festival screenings or theatrical releases. Last year at this time,
we called all of the following as “sure bets”

  • John Hawkes receives a best actor nomination (for “The Sessions”).
  • Judi Dench receives a best supporting actress nomination (for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”).
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is nominated for best adapted screenplay.
  • “Brave” is nominated for best animated feature (though likely doesn’t win).
  • “Moonrise Kingdom” is nominated for best original screenplay.
  • “Mirror Mirror” is nominated for best costume design.
  • “The Avengers” is nominated for best sound editing, best sound mixing and best visual effects.

So we were wrong about Hawkes and Dench. But they were pretty close calls, particularly the former.  Most folks were
predicting him to at least be nominated all the way through to the day of the announcement.  But we were right about the rest, and we did even better in our list potential nominees we weren’t confident enough to say would make it for sure, which included  for best picture; Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin for best director; and Quvenzhané Wallis, Helen Hunt and Emmanuelle Riva in the acting categories (we also had almost all the foreign and doc nominees listed).

READ MORE: Queue It Up: Here’s 11 Best Picture Oscar Winners Now Streaming on Netflix

This is noted not so much for bragging rights (surely many other Oscars prognosticators would have made the same calls at the time), but to make clear that half way through any given year usually offers quite a few clues as to where Oscar might be heading…  So let’s turn
the conversation to 2013.

Cannes and Sundance — which
often offer quite a few Oscar-nominated films (last year each gave us a best picture nominee in “Amour” and “Beasts,” respectively),
both gave us some early options.  As far as the best picture category goes, each festival offered two
genuine possibilities: Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” and Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight” from Sundance, and Joel & Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis” and JC Chandor’s “All Is Lost” from Cannes. 

Since the best picture lineup expanded beyond 5 in 2009, the number of
films that screened before the cut has varied widely: A whopping 6 of 10
in 2009, 4 of 10 in 2010, 3 of 9 in 2011, and just 2 from the 9
nominees from last year. “Davis” seems like the surest bet of the four to be an example of that this year. It gave the directors some of their very best reviews (and the Grand Prix at Cannes), and given three of their last four films have nabbed best picture nominations it seems unreasonable to bet against it. As for the other three (not to mention James Gray’s “The Immigrant,” Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past” and Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” all longer shots from Cannes that shouldn’t be ruled out) — it just depends on how the rest of the year goes down.
Then of course there’s Jeff Nichols’ “Mud” and Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond The Pines” — both of
which have turned into major indie box office breakouts coming off of festival debuts last year (“Mud” at Cannes, “Pines” at Toronto). Both could definitely be in the best picture mix too, or perhaps more likely screenplay nominees. But for now we are calling these 7 nominees as the “safe bets” come January, six from the aforementioned editions of this year’s Cannes and Sundance, and one more for the just released Pixar pic “Monsters University” (which despite lukewarm reviews is making serious money and the animated feature category looks pretty weak so far this year):

  • “Inside Llewyn Davis” will be nominated for best picture and best original screenplay.
  • Robert Redford will be nominated for best actor for “All Is Lost”
  • Octavia Spencer will be nominated for best supporting actress for “Fruitvale Station”
  • “Fruitvale Station” will be nominated for best original screenplay
  • “Before Midnight” will be nominated for adapted screenplay
  • “Monsters University” will be nominated for best animated feature.

As for acting possibilities beyond the noted Redford and Spencer,
there’s quite a few folks that are almost certain to be fixtures from films we’ve
already seen, it’s just that there’s so many performances still to come it would be questionable to call them sure things — Marion Cotillard in “The Immigrant”; Julie Delpy in “Before Midnight”; Berenice Bejo in “The Past”; Oscar Isaac in “Inside Llewyn Davis”; Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station”; Bruce Dern in “Nebraska.” All six of them could easily end up being nominated alongside Redford and Spencer (who could very well end up this year’s Hawkes and Dench instead).

Another potentially interesting nominee is Matthew McConaughey, who is gunning for a second year in a row of an extraordinary body of work being released in a short time frame. Last year, he seemingly just missed the cut for “Magic Mike,” and he already has an acclaimed performance from a successful film this year with “Mud.” Will that finally get him a nomination, or will his extremely promising work in fall’s “Dallas Buyers’ Club” (where he plays a man dying of AIDS) and “The Wolf of Wall Street” (the trailer for which suggests its a scene-stealing performance) do the trick instead. We’ll go ahead and make one other call: McConaughey is getting an Oscar nomination (maybe even two) this year, though it seems like “Mud” is the least likely film to help him do it.

But in the interest of keeping this first column from excess, we’ll
stop here. The rest of the story can be told through the list on the
following page. In 12 major categories, it details the chances of films
that have officially screened at either a festival or in theaters. Keep
in mind the difficulty of picking candidates in the categories of best
foreign language film and best documentary feature, both of which are notoriously unpredictable even at the end of the year
(with regard to foreign language, we don’t know which films will even be
submitted for consideration).

At the end of the summer, this column will relaunch with thoughts on
what Venice and Toronto could soon tell us about Oscar. Until then,
continue to the next page to see what we might already know about the eventual nominations (and here’s updated charts featuring guesses that include the films no one has seen yet).

Best Picture:
Safe Bets: “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Reasonable Maybes: “Before Midnight”; “Fruitvale Station”; “All Is Lost”
Dark Horses: “The Immigrant”; “Mud”; “Nebraska”; “The Past”; “The Place Beyond The Pines”

Best Director
Safe Bets: None
Reasonable Maybes: Joel & Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Dark Horses: Richard Linklater, “Before Midnight”; Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale Station”; JC Chandor, “All Is Lost”; Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

Best Actor
Safe Bets: Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”
Reasonable Maybes: Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”; Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station; “Bruce Dern, “Nebraska” (unless the latter goes supporting)
Dark Horses: Ethan Hawke, “Before Midnight”; Casey Affleck, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”

Best Actress
Safe Bets: None
Reasonable Maybes: Marion Cotillard, “The Immigrant”; Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”; Berenice Bejo, “The Past”
Dark Horses: Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”; Adele Exarchopuolos, “Blue Is The Warmest Color”; Rooney Mara, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”; Shailene Woodley, “The Spectacular Now”

Best Supporting Actor
Safe Bets: None
Reasonable Maybes: Ben Foster, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”; Matthew McConaughey, “Mud”;
Dark Horses: Harrison Ford, “42”; Ryan Gosling, “The Place Beyond The Pines”; James Franco, “Spring Breakers”; Will Forte, “Nebraska”; John Goodman, “Inside Llewyn Davis”; Sam Rockwell, “The Way Way Back”

Best Supporting Actress
Safe Bets: Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”
Reasonable Maybes: None
Dark Horses: Melonie Diaz, “Fruitvale Station”; Carey Mulligan, “Inside Llewyn Davis”; Jane Squibb, “Nebraska”; Kristin Scott Thomas, “Only God Forgives”; Scarlett Johansson, “Don Jon”

Best Original Screenplay:
Safe Bets: “Fruitvale Station”; “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Reasonable Maybes: “Mud”; “Nebraska”; “The Past”; “Frances Ha”
Dark Horses: “All Is Lost”; “The Immigrant”; “The Place Beyond The Pines”

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Safe Bets: “Before Midnight”
Reasonable Maybes: None
Dark Horses: “Monsters University”; “The Spectacular Now”

Best Animated Feature:
Safe Bets: “Monsters University”
Reasonable Maybes: “Ernest & Celestine”
Dark Horses: “Epic”; “The Croods”; “The Congress”; “Escape From Planet Earth”

Best Foreign Language Film:
Safe Bets: None (you’d be a fool to call anything in this category so early)
Reasonable Maybes: “Blue Is The Warmest Color”; “The Past”;
Dark Horses: “Like Father, Like Son”; “The Great Beauty”; “The Missing Picture”; “Child’s Pose”; “Gloria”; “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker”

Best Documentary Feature:
Safe Bets: None (this category is pretty tough to call too)
Reasonable Maybes: “Stories We Tell”; “Twenty Feet From Stardom”
Dark Horses: “The Act of Killing”; “Blood Brother”; “Blackfish”; “Call Me Kuchu”; “Cutie and the Boxer”; “Dirty Wars”; “God Loves Uganda”; “Leviathan”; “Valentine Road”; “We Steal Secrets”; “56 Up”

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Senior Writer and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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