40 Potential 2014 Oscar Contenders: Part Three – ‘Lowlife’ to ‘Place Beyond the Pines’


Hopefully each of these preview pieces are not only introducing you to the year’s most likely 2014 Oscar contenders, but perhaps introducing a few films you may have not already known about or had on your radar, giving you a little something more to look forward to.

Today I offer up ten more films and we are talking movies from the likes of George Clooney, Alexander Payne, Scott Cooper and Spike Lee to name a few.

Today’s installment includes James Gray‘s Lowlife starring Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix, then Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom featuring Idris Elba in the title role, George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men which just began filming in Berlin, Anton Corbijn‘s A Most Wanted Man, Mud from Take Shelter director Jeff Nichols and starring Matthew McConaughey, Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska, Spike Lee‘s remake of Oldboy, Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper‘s follow-up Out of the Furnace starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck, the JFK assassination picture Parkland and The Place Beyond the Pines with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper among others.

Yes, it’s yet another packed preview and yes, that was one hell of a long run-on sentence.

So you know where you are, below is a navigation leading you to the two previous installments in this preview and I have one more coming tomorrow before I reprint the whole list in its entirety on Friday.

2014 Oscar Preview Navigation

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Complete List

Now, with all pretext out of the way, let’s dig in…

Lowlife (aka Nightingale)
DIR. James Gray / TBA 2013

Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard in The Nightingale

Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner in Lowlife
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

Beyond Oscar prospects, I’m really looking forward to James Gray‘s Lowlife, which I wouldn’t be surprised to see at the Cannes Film Festival after snippets of it screened at the Telluride Film Festival last year. Gray penned the original screenplay with Ric Menello (Two Lovers) and he’s got Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix leading his cast along with already buzzed-about cinemtagraphy from Darius Khondji.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Marion Cotillard), Supporting Actor (Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix), Original Screenplay (James Gray and Ric Menello), Cinematography (Darius Khondji), Film Editing, Costumes, Production Design

STUDIO: The Weinstein Co.

CAST: Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Dagmara Dominczyk and Angela Sarafyan

SYNOPSIS: Set in the midst of turn of the century Manhattan, Lowlife centers on an impoverished Polish immigrant (Cotillard) who is driven to burlesque and prostitution to afford care for her desperately ill younger sister. While living under the control of a temperamental and cruel pimp (Phoenix), she finds hope and the promise of romance when a dashing vaudeville magician (Renner) falls for her.

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
DIR. Justin Chadwick / November 29

Clearly a Nelson Mandela story with audience favorite Idris Elba with the backing of the Weinstein Co. and a screenplay from William Nicholson (Les Miserables, Gladiator) is going to get Oscar attention, but is director Justin Chadwick the one to bring it home?

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Idris Elba), Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Adapated Screenplay (William Nicholson), Costumes (Dianna Cilliers and Ruy Filipe)

STUDIO: The Weinstein Co.

CAST: Idris Elba and Naomie Harris

SYNOPSIS: Based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”, the film centers on the South African leader and President from 1994-95 and his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison…

The Monuments Men
DIR. George Clooney / December 18

It’s almost not fair to everyone else when you look at the pieces that make up The Monuments Men. Directed by George Clooney who co-wrote the screenplay with Grant Heslov based on the Robert M. Edsel‘s book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” with a cast that includes Clooney, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban and Matt Damon. Don’t also forget the score from Alexandre Desplat and cinematography from Phedon Papamichael. If I had to call a film my early year favorite, this is it.

The only thing I’m not sure on is who the leads of the piece are so for the acting categories I currently have no idea.

SIDE NOTE: If you live near Berlin or Potsdam and want to be in the movie, production just got underway and they are looking for about 1,500 extras.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay (Clooney and Heslov), Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, Cinematography (Phedon Papamichael), Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Costumes, Production Design

STUDIO: 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures

CAST: Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, George Clooney and Matt Damon

SYNOPSIS: The Monuments Men confronts the final chapter of Germany’s rule, which came down to the absolute destruction of everything that makes a culture keep its standing, including the lives that are lost and the sacrifices that are made. All of this is in danger of being lost forever as Hitler and the Nazis try to cover the tracks of a murderous regime. A crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art that were stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.

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