Welcome to the first 2014 edition of this returning feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe. It’s a bit early to be able to accurately predict the eventual Oscar nominees, but around this time, plenty of likely contenders are being released. I’ll be looking every Wednesday at the awards chances for all of the films released the previous week. Additionally, to make up for lost time, I’ll also be taking a look at the films released earlier in the year, two months at a time. Chime in with your thoughts on the Oscar chances for these films in the comments section. Also, if I’ve missed any films from the previous months, please say so!
All four of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s previous feature-length films have earned Oscar nominations. This film is a likely Best Picture contender, and expect Inarritu to be up for directing too as he was in 2006 for “Babel.” Michael Keaton is on track to get his first Oscar nomination, and I’d love to see Edward Norton or Emma Stone join him, but I think the cast may be too crowded for favorites to be chosen. Best Original Screenplay is a lock, Best Film Editing is likely, and Best Cinematography and Best Original Score (if the film is eligible) are possibilities too.
This film didn’t go over as well as I expected it to given the reaction it got at Sundance (someone got up and shouted “Bravo! Bravo!” while clapping). That said, I could see Kristen Stewart showing up in the Best Actress – Drama race at the Golden Globes but not making it to the Oscars. It would be nice if Payman Maadi had a shot too, but there’s no chance of that happening.
War movies don’t always make the cut with Oscar voters, but sometimes they really do. I wouldn’t expect any acting nominations for Brad Pitt or Logan Lerman despite the quality of their performances, but this will likely show up in the Best Sound or Best Sound Editing categories. Could it be a Best Picture contender? I don’t think so, but it’s possible. If it is, look for it as a possibility in Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography, but doubtful anywhere else.
Mr. Peabody and Sherman (March 7)
This animated film – which I liked a lot – should be up for Best Animated Feature, and I would be severely disappointed if it didn’t make the cut.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7)
Wes Anderson’s latest film is a spoiler for Best Picture, but I think that it will likely go the way of Anderson’s previous film, “Moonrise Kingdom,” which should have been in for Best Picture but ended up with just a Best Original Screenplay bid. Who knows – Oscar voters could get creative and embrace Anderson’s distinctive weirdness!
Muppets Most Wanted (March 21)
The first film took home Best Original Song, and it appears that this sequel has a handful of original tunes that it could submit, any of which have a decent shot at earning a nomination.
Divergent (March 21)
The big popular teen movies don’t always make a mark – “The Hunger Games” series hasn’t scored anything and all eight Harry Potter movies scraped together twelve nominations among all of them – but it’s always possible that a movie like this will break into one of the technical categories just to remind voters that box office and audiences do matter.
Noah (March 28)
Don’t look at the Oscar records for Darren Aronofsky, Russell Crowe, or Jennifer Connelly to help you here. Instead, look out for this film in any of the following: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, Best Makeup, or Best Visual Effects.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
The first film in the series didn’t merit any mentions but then “The Avengers” snuck into Best Visual Effects. Can this well-received sequel score a bid in that race or either of the sound categories?
Joe (April 11)
It’s not going to happen, but I would be very happy to see Nicolas Cage, an actor who doesn’t usually try too hard these days, rewarded for a top-notch performance in this underseen film. Maybe I can start a campaign? He does have an Oscar win and two nominations under his belt, even if the last one was twelve years ago.
Rio 2 (April 11)
The first film missed out on a Best Animated Feature nomination – as I imagine this one will – but it did score a Best Original Song mention. Given that this sequel apparently has fresh songs in it, it’s worthwhile to watch out for it to make a return appearance.
Fading Gigolo (April 18)
This wasn’t actually directed by Woody Allen – he just stars in it - but John Turturro’s film did earn positive mentions and might score a Best Original Screenplay nomination or pop up at the Golden Globes.
Locke (April 25)
I’m not sure when Tom Hardy is going to earn his first Oscar nomination, but it can’t be far away. If enough people saw it, he could have a shot for his one-man show in this film that finds him driving and talking on a cell phone for an hour and a half. Not likely at all, but it would be a nice and well-deserved surprise.