14 Movies From 2013 That Could Strike Oscar Gold

Sure the Oscars may be seven months away, but once the Telluride Film Festival opens a month from now, Oscar season will officially begin. With both Venice and Toronto announcing their line-ups this week, as well, the contenders are starting to take form. So here’s a very early look at some of the movies that could be up for Oscar on March 2, 2014, at the 86th Academy Awards.

1.) The Butler


If I had to pick one movie most likely to win Best Picture today, Lee Daniels’ The Butler would be it. It just looks like an Oscar movie. The Weinsteins are 100 percent behind it, they stirred up a controversy to make it look like a movie worth rooting for, and it has the Precious team behind it. With Oprah poised to lock in Best Supporting Actress before the race even begins, this could be a freight train come Oscar time.

In Contention: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress

Opens Aug. 16.

2.) Inside Llewyn Davis


The Coen brothers latest film garnered some of the pair’s best reviews in their careers coming out of Cannes. Some have even called it their best movie since Fargo. While that sentiment could actually work against them in the end, the Coens look poised to at least walk down the red carpet with Oscar Isaac, Carrie Mulligan and John Goodman in February.

In Contention: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor

Opens Dec. 6.

3.) 12 Years a Slave


Steve McQueen’s latest picture looks like his most likely Oscar contender yet. The period film about a free man who is forced into slavery in the Antebellum South has an enviable cast with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti and McQueen regular Michael Fassbender all in contention. Plus the always superb Sarah Paulson may finally get recognized for her portrayal of Fassbinder’s jealous wife.

In Contention: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor

Opens Oct. 18.

4.) Nebraska


Another Cannes favorite, Nebraska already earned its lead Bruce Dern the Best Actor trophy at the French festival. With Alexander Payne’s history as an Oscar contender (his last two movies received Best Picture and Director nods), this film, his most personal work, might not score gold in the end… but it’ll almost certainly be a multiple nominee.

In Contention: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress

Opens Nov. 22.

5.) Fruitvale Station


Ryan Coogler’s film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by a white BART officer on New Year’s Day 2009, is the most zeitgeisty of the potential nominees. The story’s parallels with the Trevon Martin case are certain to help it overcome a lot of very obvious weaknesses. Plus, you never count the Weinsteins out.

In Contention: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress

Now Playing

6.) The Wolf of Wall Street


Four of Martin Scorsese’s last five movies have earned Best Picture and Best Director nominations, so just releasing a movie puts the Oscar-winning director’s film in contention. And we still haven’t forgiven Wall Street for the housing crisis, so watching a story about extreme Wall Street excess is bound to stir up a few emotions. The film also features Matthew McConaughey in one of three roles that could help him win Oscar this year.

In Contention: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor

Opens Nov. 15.

7.) Labor Day

Labor Day Movie

Jason Reitman’s last movie was more of a personal work by the film’s writer Diablo Cody. With Labor Day, Reitman makes something a little different: A film about a mother and son who pick up an escaped convict. With Kate Winslet in the lead role, Reitman could have Up in the Air like success here, a film that earned six Oscar nominations.

In Contention: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actress

Opens Jan. 31.

8.) The Fifth Estate


With the recent revelations of government spying, Wiki leaks founder Julian Assange found himself back in the headlines as a defender of Edward Snowden. The Fifth Estate, directed by Oscar nominee Bill Condon, is one of those film’s that could benefit from being in the right place at the right time. Of course, having Benedict Cumberbatch, one of the hottest actors in Hollywood, playing the lead helps, too.

In Contention: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor

Opens Oct. 18.

9.) August: Osage County


Plays don’t often translate to motion pictures, but they tend to maintain the original work’s greatest assets: Writing and acting. With perennial Oscar favorite Meryl Streep in the lead along with Julia Roberts, this Tony winning play could have Doubt-like success on nomination day.

In Contention: Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress

Opens Dec. 25

10.) Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela reeks of Oscar glory. Though the Weinsteins will likely be pushing The Butler hard in most categories, they’ll have to choose who to back in the Best Actor race. Given Oscar’s history with rewarding actors playing historically significant characters in biopics, my money is on Elba, not just for a nomination, but for a win.

In Contention: Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress

Opens Nov. 29

11.) Before Midnight


The conclusion (?) of Jesse and Celine’s story is the best film in the trilogy. With Before Sunset getting the trio of Ethan Hawke, Julie Delphy and Richard Linklater an nomination for Adapted Screenplay, this picture could easily give them the Oscar. I’d say it’s in the lead for that award right now. An added benefit is that the expanded number Best Picture nominations since Sunset was released could mean Midnight even makes it to a Best Picture nod.

In Contention: Picture, Screenplay

Released June 14.

12.) Blue Jasmine


Never underestimate Woody Allen. The rave reviews for his latest film, though not as gushing as they were for his last Oscar contender Midnight in Paris, are strong, especially when it comes to Cate Blanchett, who is leading the actress pack at the moment. It could finally be her year. And since Woody has directed 5 actors/actresses to 6 Oscars, things are looking good for this great Cate.

In Contention: Screenplay, Actress

Now Playing

13.) Mud


The film about two boys who befriend a homeless fugitive on the Arkansas Delta is a near perfect movie. But it’s not likely to score any serious nominations with one exception: Matthew McConaughey. Of the three movies he’s in this year, this one is the most likely to earn him the Oscar he should have won last year. And if Sony Picture Classics runs him in the Supporting Actor category, McConaughey could win the Oscar in a walk.

In Contention: Best Supporting Actor

Released May 10.

14.) Dallas Buyers Club


Of course, there’s also this movie for Matthew McConaughey. The actor famously lost 38 pounds to get the skeletal look he needed to play AIDS patient. Weight loss didn’t result in Oscars for Christian Bale (The Machinist) or Tom Hanks (Cast Away), but it’s certain to get McConaughey noticed in yet another role that guide him to Oscar.

In Contention: Best Actor

Opens Dec. 6

One Comment

  1. I think you forgot “The Hustle” 🙂 Does Jenifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, oh and let`s not forget Harvey Weinstein, mean anything to you? 🙂
    And what about Leonardo Dicaprio? Don`t you think he can take home the “Best Actor” award?


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