Friday, August 1, 2014

2014 Oscar Preview: September Releases

As we all know, the brunt of awards season releases are more likely to reach the big screen in November, December and sometimes even January (damn you qualifying releases!). However, the months of September and October tend to boast a few powerhouse contenders of there own. I'll be spending the next four days examining the most-likely films to make a splash on the road to the Oscars. Here's look at the potential Oscar-caliber releases arriving in theatres this September.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Release Date: September 12th, 2014

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Viola Davis

The Scoop: Ned Benson's collection of three films, the Him, Her and Them versions, have separately  played the festival circuit at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and this year's Cannes Festival. The Them version, which is expected to be a formidable Oscar contender in the fall, tells the story of a couple desperate to recapture the love they once knew. It blends together pieces of the Him and Her versions which each tell the story of the couple's relationship from separate points of view. 

Potential Nominations: Jessica Chastain is always a name thrown around the Best Actress category.

The Equalizer

Release Date: September 26th, 2014

Starring: Denzel Washington and Chloe Grace Moretz

The Scoop: From the collaborative team that delivered 2001's Training Day, which landed Denzel Washington a Best Actor statue at the Oscars, director Antoine Fuqua returns with The Equalizer. Washington stars as a former black ops commando who fakes his own death to escape the service and live a normal life. However, when a robbery at his work and the abuse of a young girl he's befriended (Moretz) force him to come out of retirement, he finds himself pitted against the Russian mafia. 

Potential Nominations: While The Equalizer feels like one of September's long-shots at an Oscar run, history says you can never overlook the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua combo.

The Skeleton Twins

Release Date: September 29th, 2014

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Luke Wilson

The Scoop: Fresh out of this year's Sundance class, The Skeleton Twins marks a smooth transition from comedy to drama for its leading co-stars, Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. The pair star as estranged twins who reconnect after an unfortunate event, and the reunion prompts them to examine the current state of their lives. I was very impressed with The Skeleton Twins at Sundance and you can read my full review here.

Potential Nominations: While it proves difficult for comedy actors to score an Oscar Nomination with their first dramatic go-around, The Skeleton Twins will find its best chance at recognition coming in the Best Original Screenplay race.

Dark Places

Release Date: September 1st, 2014

Starring: Charlize Theron and Chloe Grace Moretz

The Scoop: Although little is known concerning the upcoming fall release, Dark Places, this adapted film has prognosticators anxious enough to warrant a mention. The mystery-thriller follows a woman who survived the brutal murder of her family as a child as is forced to relive the harrowing events of that day by a secret society fixed on solving the crime. I'd expect a trailer to be released fairly soon so we can finally catch a glimpse into this wild-card feature.

Potential Nominations: Charlize Theron is a perennial Best Actress contender for just about any role she takes on, so keep an eye out for her.

The Drop

Release Date: September 12th, 2014

Starring: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace

The Scoop: Everyone's aware of the terrible loss last year when James Gandolfini unexpectedly passed away. Michael R. Roskam's upcoming crime-drama marks the final performance from Gandolfini as he and Hardy star as a bar owner and bartender, respectively, who collect financial drop-offs for local gangsters. Yet, when the bar is robbed and the criminals demand the "real" money, the pair of cousins find themselves caught in the middle of a serious situation that puts their lives at risk.

Potential Nominations: Despite high hopes, the only realistic chance at a nomination comes in the form of a posthumous Supporting Actor nod to Gandolfini for a lifetime of achievements.

This is Where I Leave You

Release Date: September 19th, 2014

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda

The Scoop: Much like her SNL counterparts mentioned above, Tina Fey continues her pursuit of a reputation as a legitimate actress. In Shawn Levy's comedy, This is Where I Leave You, Fey and Jason Bateman star as two of many siblings who reunite after the passing of their father, only to discover from their mother (Jane Fonda) that their dad's final wish was for the whole family to spend a whole week together living under the same roof. 

Potential Nominations: While Fey and Bateman seem unlikely to get recognized, an old veteran such as Jane Fonda could find her way to a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

*** Stay tuned tomorrow for a look at October's potential Oscar releases.

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