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After all the Oscar talk of who won, who lost, who stole the show, and how the show ran, maybe you're exhausted on 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, Her, Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska, Philomena, American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street and Captain Phillips. So, how about we look ahead to 2015?
Because it's never too soon.
There's a barrage of high-profile projects coming out in the next 10 months that can qualify for the Academy Awards, but which 10 features do we feel are fighting fit for Oscar? Sure, most of these are sight unseen. But after all the award season predictions and Oscar watching, we think we've nailed down 10 films that are ripe for a Best Picture nod next year.
The Grand Budapest HotelCast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jude Law and Tilda Swinton.
Director: Wes Anderson
Release Date: March 7th, 2014
Why It Could Win: Anderson has been Academy Awards-nominated three times, twice for Best Original Screenplay (Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tenenbaums) and once for Best Animated Feature (Fantastic Mr. Fox). The Grand Budapest Hotel is his most elaborate and ambitious production yet, and we suspect the Academy will take notice and pay tribute. It's got a spectacular and star-stacked cast, an earnest nostalgia for old school Hollywood fare, as well as a whimsical story of romance and regret. What's not to love? Plus, as we've seen with Her's nomination, this Academy is not so stodgy as it once was.
NoahCast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Release Date: March 28th, 2014
Why It Could Win: On paper this biblical pic is pretty tough to beat. Writer-director Aronofsky has an enviable record with the Academy since 2000, when his second film Requiem for a Dream earned an Oscar nod for Ellen Burstyn. In 2009, The Wrestler wrangled nominations for Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. Two years later, Natalie Portman won for Black Swan, which also boasted a Best Director and Best Picture nod. Now, I won't go so far as to say Aronofsky's due at this point. But no matter how daring his dramas, he's made the Academy recognize him. A nomination is almost guaranteed. But with a cast of Oscar-winners onboard, Noah could be his big winner.
Devil's KnotCast: Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Amy Ryan, Mireille Enos and Alessandro Nivola
Director: Atom Egoyan
Release Date: May 9th, 2014
Why It Could Win: Egoyan has had two previous brushes with Oscar, both in 1997 when he earned nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director for The Sweet Hereafter. Since then, his brand of sensual crime drama has largely been ignored by the Academy. But this time he's sinking his teeth into a twisted true crime story that has drawn headlines for decades. It's sure to pique Academy members' interest, and with a cast made up of Oscar winners (Witherspoon, Firth and Ryan) as well as actor to watch Dane DeHaan, Devil's Knot could prove darkly enticing enough to get Egoyan a Best Picture nomination at last. At the very least, it should lock down some acting nods.
Million Dollar ArmCast: Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin, Lake Bell and Aasif Mandvi
Director: Craig Gillespie
Release Date: May 16th, 2014
Why It Could Win: Often the Oscars have one pick that's decidedly sentimental. Pushing hard to win that spot is this biopic about a sports agent who looks for baseball's next great pitcher in India, testing out cricket players in a game show format. Watching the trailer, it's easy to recall sports dramas like Jerry Maguire and Moneyball, both movies that received multiple Oscar nominations, including nods for Best Picture. Don't get me wrong: this movie from the director of Mr. Woodcock won't win. But it has a good shot at being next year's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a movie that's earnest but ultimately unworthy of the company it keeps on Oscar night.
FoxcatcherCast: Channing Tatum, Anthony Michael Hall, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo
Director: Bennett Miller
Release Date: TBD
Why It Could Win: Speaking of Moneyball, its director is following up on that six-time nominated biopic with another, also focusing on a compelling sports-centered tale. But don't expect statistics or an uplifting narrative of a father rediscovering the importance of family. Foxcatcher will unfold the tragic story of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, and how his relationship with John duPont led to unspeakable destruction. Between its premise, the true story angle and the prestige Miller brings, Foxfire looks great on paper. It also offers challenging roles for Tatum and Carell. But will this casting gamble pay off? A shift in release dates --from December 2013 to eventually 2014--has us less certain than we were last fall. But Foxcatcher still looks to be a contender.
InterstellarCast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and John Lithgow
Director: Christopher Nolan
Release Date: November 7th, 2014
Why It Could Win: The Oscars overlooked each Dark Knight as a Best Picture contender, but offered Inception the coveted nod. When it comes to genre movies, the Academy can be pretty pretentious. But this year, they rained seven awards--including Best Director--on Gravity. So another hard-sci-fi thriller from a visionary helmer could be poised to break into Best Picture once more! If anyone can make that happen it'd be Christopher Nolan with Interstellar, a movie inspired by worm hole concepts by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. And of course a cast this loaded with Oscar winners and nominees won't hurt Nolan's chances.
FuryCast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal and Michael Pena
Director: David Ayer
Release Date: November 14th, 2014
Why It Could Win: David Ayer broke onto the scene with his third film End of Watch in 2012. The take-no-prisoners cop thriller was shocking and poignant, offering its writer-director a double dose of stellar opportunities. One is the fierce Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick Sabotage. The other is this World War II drama about a tank crew on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. The Academy loves a good war movie (Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, War Horse, Lincoln). Having seen what he brought to the cop-drama genre, I believe Ayer is primed to deliver them one.
Inherent ViceCast: Sasha Pieterse, Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Maya Rudolph
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Release Date: December 12th, 2014
Why It Could Win: Inspired by Thomas Pynchon's novel of the same name, Inherent Vice is one we've seen nothing of, but expect great things from. Why? Um, did you see it's directed by Paul Thomas Anderson? From Boogie Nights to Magnolia, There Will Be Blood to The Master, his movies have been snatching Oscar nominations for decades. Notably only There Will Be Blood earned a Best Picture nod, but like that drama this one focuses on a man fueled by a relentless tenacity in his quest. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, Inherent Vice's hero is also fueled by drugs. But if it doesn't get too weird, Anderson could be in the sweet seats come Oscar night.
ExodusCast: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley
Director: Ridley Scott
Release Date: December 12th, 2014
Why It Could Win: Sure, the Academy has a snooty bias against genres like horror and science-fiction, but when Scott plays it straight, he tends to get great returns, as proven by Best Director nominations for Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. This time, he's not only going straight drama, he's going full on biblical with the tale of Moses. Tthe Academy has been known to sing the praises of a blockbuster bible tale, giving The Ten Commandments, The Robe and Ben-Hur Best Picture nods. So this period piece could well put the prolific director back in Oscar's good graces.
Into The WoodsCast: Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt
Director: Rob Marshall
Release Date: December 25th, 2014
Why It Could Win: You know what Oscar likes? A big showy musical. And who better to give it to them than Rob Marshall, director of the six-time Academy Award winner Chicago. Yup, one of those was Best Picture. And for his return to movie musicals--following the painfully forgettable Nine--Marshall has stuffed his cast to the brim with adored talent, including 18-time Oscar nominee Meryl Streep. The Broadway show from James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim already provides a sensational story. Add the heavy dose of star power and the panache of many, many song numbers, Into The Woods could already be called a frontrunner.