We've spent the earlier part of this week looking back at the first half of 2013 and the best this year has offered. My friend and co-author, Greg Rouleau, and myself offered our Top 5 movies of 2013 so far, as well as the early-year releases that could end up with an Oscar Nomination. Now, we will take a look at the fall and winter releases that have Oscar-contender written all over them. And here's our first look at the films you NEED to keep in the back of your mind as the second half of 2013 continues on.
Rush - Ron Howard's period piece on a Formula 1 rivalry gets things going in September, while Hemsworth's fans will have this to tidy them over before the “Thor” sequel in November. The Howard/Grazer team has produced three Best Picture nominees since 1995 and if this receives a decent critical reception with a healthy box-office, then they could be well on their way to a fourth. (Sep 20)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Daniel Bruhl (Supporting Actor).
Diana – Naomi Watts has found herself in the midst of a very successful acting career. The Academy has regularly shown her some love, but has never given her the statue that her resume craves. Some prognosticators are claiming this is the year and “Diana” is the film. Watts stars as the beloved Princess Diana during the final two years of her life. Sure to garner the support of all British members of the Academy, perhaps Watts will finally get that elusive win that she so desperately desires. (Sep 20)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Naomi Watts (Leading Actress).
Gravity - October brings the first wave of big potential awards season players, and first up is "Gravity". After being snubbed in the major categories for the exceptional "Children of Men" (save Adapted Screenplay), director Alfonso Cuaron looks like he has a great chance at landing his first Best Director nod with this Sci-Fi thriller. With the ever-popular Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in the lead roles, this could be the sleeper hit of the season. And that trailer....wow. (Oct 4)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Sandra Bullock (Lead Actress).
Captain Phillips - 2013 could be a return-to-form year for one of my favorite actors of all-time, Mr. Tom Hanks. While 2012's "Cloud Atlas" failed to thrust him back into awards consideration, he has a strong one-two punch coming out in the key months of 2013. First up is Paul Greengrass's "Captain Phillips". The man who helmed the "Bourne" sequels and the gripping "United 93" has always displayed a deft hand in directing action and suspense, and the film’s first trailer gives us a thrilling taste of what we can expect. With the benefit of another true-story and Hanks in the lead, it could have the makings of another strong October contender. (Oct 11)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Tom Hanks (Lead Actor).
The Fifth Estate - The story about WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange has yet to release a trailer, but early word is the work from Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role is strong. Strong enough, in fact, that he could be recast as the Aussie in a possible Edward Snowden story. While this could be a tricky film to market, it could be Cumberbatch who benefits with the attention turned towards his performance rather than the film. Director Bill Condon may also have to deal with the baggage of being fresh off the "Twilight" movies, or will the Academy make good for the “Dreamgirls” snub? (Oct 11)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Benedict Cumberbatch (Lead Actor), Daniel Bruhl (Supporting Actor).
12 Years A Slave - Speaking of Cumberbatch, the Brit has a supporting role in another potential Oscar contender, "12 Years A Slave". Will the potential of this one be affected by the still fresh-in-our-minds "Django Unchained"? Well, going for it: Brad Pitt producing and starring, a period piece, up-and-coming Director and a cast that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, 2012 Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis and Michael Fassbender. (Oct 18 - limited)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Chiwetel Ejiofor (Lead Actor), Michael Fassbender (Supporting Actor).
The Counselor - Pitt and Fassbender are also set to star in Ridley Scott's "The Counselor", which was written by "No Country For Old Men" scribe Cormac McCarthy, but this one’s an original screenplay. Also along for the ride are the Oscar-winning couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. The first teaser-trailer revealed very little, but succeeded in bringing up the anticipation a few notches. (Oct 25)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Fassbender (Lead Actor), Pitt and Bardem (Supporting Actor), Diaz and Cruz (Supporting Actress).
Philomena - With a November UK release date, this one should have a similar release in the US. Little is known about the movie at this point, but at the very least it could see a big push for Judi Dench in the Lead Actress category. Dame Judi made some late awards season noise with her supporting turn in "Skyfall" and director Stephen Frears directed her to a Best Actress nod in 2005 with Mrs' Henderson Presents. Frears also received a nod in 2006 for "The Queen" which brought Helen Mirren her elusive first Oscar. So who knows? (Nov 1 – in UK)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Judi Dench (Lead Actress).
The Wolf of Wall Street – Two men who need no introduction (especially with each other) are Leonardo DiCaprio and his buddy-buddy director, Martin Scorsese. The dynamic duo team up, yet again, in this November’s highly anticipated release, “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Following the real-life story of Jordan Belfort, the film examines the stockbroker’s rise and fall at the hands of crime and corruption on Wall Street. This leaves only one question remaining. Will Leo FINALLY get that much-deserved Academy Award victory? (Nov 15)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Leo (Lead Actor), Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey (Supporting Actor).
Nebraska – Just about every time director Alexander Payne releases a film, it turns into Oscar gold (i.e. “Descendants”, “Sideways”, etc …). This time around Payne gives us “Nebraska”, a road-trip movie following an estranged son and his booze-addled father (played by Bruce Dern). The two journey all the way from Montana to Nebraska in order to claim a million dollar sweepstakes. Although initial reviews haven’t been overwhelming, you can never count Alexander Payne out of any Oscar discussion. (Nov 22)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Bruce Dern (Supporting Actor).
Grace of Monaco – The always flattering Nicole Kidman closes out November in her leading portrayal of Hollywood star Grace Kelly in Olivier Dahan’s “Grace of Monaco”. While the film feels like a long-shot in the Best Picture race, Kidman is sure to generate some buzz in the Lead Actress race. Examining the crisis of Grace Kelly’s marriage during the backdrop of a looming French invasion of Monaco, “Grace of Monaco” seems to have all the makings of a stellar character study. (Nov 27th – limited)
Potential Acting Nomination(s): Nicole Kidman (Lead Actress), Tim Roth (Supporting Actor).
*** Be sure to check back tomorrow as we take a look at the big-named Oscar-contenders being released in December, 2013.