40 Potential 2014 Oscar Contenders: Part One – ’12 Years a Slave’ to ‘Elysium’

The 2013 Oscars have come to a close, but that doesn’t mean us dedicated followers of the almighty awards season stop looking ahead twelve months from now when a new film will be crowned king of the world amidst all the backlash and hate that swirls around the event.

Instead of focusing on the negative, let’s keep positive. Let’s look forward to the next ten months of 2013 and ponder what possible great films we may have in store. While we may second guess the decisions of the Academy and consider them out-of-step with current trends in film, at the very least they give us a chance to consider what may be the best the year has to offer and what will be the most talked about films and performances come this year’s awards race.

Pushing the build-up aside, my early year 2014 Oscar Preview begins today with the first ten films in a 40 movie preview. I will dedicated this space to ten new films each day and on Friday reprint the list in its entirety before opening the doors to my 2014 Oscar predictions next week.

In each preview I’ve included some thoughts on each film’s Oscar potential and what categories they may most likely find themselves nominated. I’ve included the cast, director, studio, synopsis and release date where applicable. Some of these films don’t even have distribution yet, how will that effect their award campaign? When will some most likely premiere? What films will we likely see at this year’s film festivals?

I hope to get into all of these questions and more over the next four days and then the predicting begins earlier than ever before when I open the doors to my 2014 Oscar predictions next week.

For now, let’s check out the first ten films in my 2014 Oscar preview and you will be able to browse the rest of the installments using the following navigation as each one is released.

2014 Oscar Preview Navigation

Part One | Part Four | Complete List

Today’s films include Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave, August: Osage County starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, the third film in the Before franchise Before Midnight, Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine, Captain Phillips from Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks, Dallas Buyers Club with Matthew McConaughey, the Best Actress bid for Naomi Watts in Diana, Elysium from District 9 helmer Neill Blomkamp, The Butler starring Forrest Whitaker and Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor written by Cormac McCarthy and starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Javier Bardem.

Let’s begin…

Twelve Years a Slave
DIR. Steve McQueen / TBA 2013

12 Years a Slave
Photo: New Regency

There have already been test screenings for Steve McQueen‘s follow-up to Shame, a relentless and unflinching look at slavery that will likely draw comparisons to Django Unchained even though we’re talking about polar opposite films that just happen to take place amid one of the worst times in America’s history.

Odds on Twelve Years a Slave getting a Best Picture nomination are slim and from what I have heard from a few people that attended press screenings, their reactions seem to mirror those recapped by Shadow & Act. From what it sounds like this one will likely have a better chance in the acting categories than anywhere else, but it would also be nice to see McQueen get some love in the Director category and maybe Sean Bobbitt can get the Cinematography nom he was wrongly overlooked for with Shame.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o), Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley and Steve McQueen), Cinematography (Sean Bobbitt)

STUDIO: No Distributer Yet

CAST: Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Adepero Oduye, Paul Dano, Taran Killam, Benedict Cumberbatch, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Michael Kenneth Williams, Quvenzhané Wallis

SYNOPSIS: Tells the true story of Solomon Northrup, a New York citizen who was kidnapped in Washington in 1841 and rescued from a cotton plantation in Louisiana in 1853.

August: Osage County
DIR. John Wells / November 8

Let’s see, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy Letts play adapted by Letts, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts and distributed by The Weinstein Co. I think the Oscar chances for August: Osage County speak for themselves.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Meryl Strep), Supporting Actress (Julia Roberts and Margo Martindale), Supporting Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Adapted Screenplay (Tracy Letts)

STUDIO: The Weinstein Co.

CAST: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard, Ewan McGregor and Julianne Nicholson

SYNOPSIS: Meet the Westons. Dad’s disappeared. Mom’s (Streep) popping pills. One daughter’s (Roberts) bound for divorce. And that’s just the start. The film is based on Tracy Letts’ award-winning play.

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