With the rush of the Toronto, Venice and Telluride film festivals dying down, and the New York Film Festival just gearing up, it's easy to start thinking we've seen most of this year's big awards contenders already. But putting together this year's charts for the first time, I've been kind of amazed by how many question marks remain. It's not just the big movies we've yet to see, like Steven Spielberg's Lincoln and Tom Hooper's Les Miserables, but some oddball possible contenders as well. Sam Mendes's Bond film Skyfall could easily work its way into awards discussion if it turns out well. Same for Ang Lee's ambitious 3D Life of Pi (which screens for critics at the New York Film Festival this Friday). And while it seems unlikely for lightning to strike twice for a giant fantasy trilogy, we can't yet count out Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey-- at least not while so many other films remain under wraps.

And even while we look to fall, the recent box office has started clearing up a lot of other potentials as well. David Ayer's cop drama End of Watch squeaked out a box office victory over the weekend, making acting nominations for stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena suddenly a possibility. Trouble With the Curve debuted to mixed reviews and low box office, which probably means we can count Clint out. And The Master continues an incredibly strong run in limited release, which makes it all the more likely Paul Thomas Anderson's chilly new masterpiece can make an impact in a crowded awards field.

The coming week will bring a look at Won't Back Down, which I'm not really counting on for any awards play right now, as well as Looper, a sci-fi film with incredibly strong buzz, but probably limited awards potential. The real mystery is this Friday's screening of Life of Pi, which I'll be able to report back on-- provided I make it through the notorious crowds, that is.

In the meantime, on to this year's first installment of the charts, where I think I've included everything that seems like a realistic possibility in six different categories-- Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor (click through to see them all!) Chime in if you think I missed anything, and let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments!

oscar winner prediction

Once again we're dealing with a Best Picture category on a sliding scale-- there could be 5 nominees, there could be 10, and no one will know how many until nominations morning in January. But while there are some strong festival season contenders to deal with right now, there are also some biggies yet to come, most notably Lincoln and Les Miserables, either of which could instantly become a frontrunner. For now I'm more interested in some of the dark horses that might make a run for it, like Skyfall-- it's got a Best Director winner behind it, after all!-- or even Judd Apatow's This is 40. I can also continue rooting for Cloud Atlas to overcome mixed festival buzz and leap up as a contender, but that's probably just wishful thinking on my part.



Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Master
Silver Linings Playbook

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
The Impossible
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Moonrise Kingdom
Promised Land
Zero Dark Thirty

The Avengers
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Cloud Atlas
End of Watch
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Killing Them Softly
Not Fade Away
Rust and Bone
The Sessions
This Is 40

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