Sunday, August 3, 2014

2014 Oscar Preview: October Releases

Yesterday, I took a look at the best possible Oscar contenders arriving to theatres in September. Now, I'm going to shift gears to the month of October. With a much stronger crop of titles in play, you can expect to hear a few of these names called at the Academy Awards. Let's take a look at the most notable films slated for an October release.

Gone Girl

Release Date: October 3rd, 2014

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Carrie Coon

The Scoop: One of the most anticipated releases of the year, David Fincher's Gone Girl, hits theatres early enough to set the bar for this year's awards season. While contemporary wisdom has most Oscar-caliber features holding off until December, this adapted mystery is displaying an aura of confidence. Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a husband who becomes the lead suspect in his wife's disappearance and is forced to face the court of public opinion. Fincher's one of the best filmmakers in Hollywood and the early trailers have looked fantastic. 

Potential Nominations: The possibilities are endless for Gone Girl. It wouldn't be far-fetched to expect Oscar love for Affleck (Best Actor), Rosamund Pike (Best Actress), as well as recognition in the Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay categories.


Release Date: October 10th, 2014

Starring: Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons

The Scoop: The two most-raved about films out of this year's Sundance class were Richard Linklater's groundbreaking coming-of-age film, Boyhood, and the Grand Jury Prize Winner, Whiplash (full review here). Damien Chazzelle's gut-wrenching tale of a young music-school drummer (Miles Teller) who develops an obsession with greatness as a result of his instructor's (J.K. Simmons) demanding psyche is both gripping and intense. Transforming a story about Jazz drumming into a well-crafted character study is an impressive feat, thanks largely in part to a pair of amazing actors.

Possible Nominations: While Whiplash doesn't carry the prototypical Oscar bravado, J.K. Simmons (Supporting Actor) is truly remarkable and I sense an outside chance at an Original Screenplay Nomination.


Release Date: October 17th, 2014

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone

The Scoop: Definitely a little unorthodox, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu's dark comedy, Birdman, has become a popular Best Picture prediction from many insiders. Michael Keaton stars as Riggan Thomson, a once-famous actor forced to overcome his ego and family issues in order to put on a Broadway play that will resurrect his career. The cast is crowded with A-list performers and Innaritu has certainly impressed the Academy many times before, making Birdman a legitimate Oscar contender.

Potential Nominations: It's feasible that Michael Keaton (Best Actor) and Edward Norton (Supporting Actor) earn triumphant returns to the final five, as well as Nominations for Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay.

Kill the Messenger

Release Date: October 10th, 2014

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Michael Sheen and Mary Elizabeth Winstead

The Scoop: One of the more interesting titles set for release in October is Michael Cuesta's Kill the Messenger which tells the real life story of investigative journalist Gary Webb. In the mid-90s Webb (played by Renner) wrote a three part series for the San Jose Mercury News alleging that the Reagan administration and the CIA were aware of a Nicaraguan crack-cocaine smuggling ring that fueled a wide-spread drug epidemic throughout the United States during the 1980s. But it's the government's retaliation to Webb's fierce journalism that would forever taint his legacy and destroy his life. 

Potential Nominations: If Kill the Messenger can pull it off, there's a chance it could be a major player during awards season (Best Picture, Director, Actor - Renner). But it's safest bet, either way, is a final spot in the Best Adapted Screenplay race.

The Judge

Release Date: October 10th, 2014

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall and Vera Farmiga

The Scoop: David Dobkin is best-known for directing the 2005 comedy sensation, Wedding Crashers. Yet, this year he throws his hat in the proverbial Oscar-ring and attempts to stand toe-to-toe with many big-named contenders. His latest work, The Judge, follows a big-shot city lawyer named Hank Palmer who returns to his small town home after his mother passes away. While there, he discovers that his father (Robert Duvall), a retired local judge whom he hasn't spoken to in years, has become the center of a hit-and-run murder investigation. Dobkin hopes his courtroom backdrop to a bigger and more emotional father-son story will be his "golden ticket" the the Academy Awards.

Potential Nominations: If everything clicks with critics and audiences, The Judge has a high ceiling that could score a number of Oscar nods in the major categories (Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay). However, it's the performances from Robert Downey Jr. (Best Actor) and Robert Duvall (Supporting Actor) that have the best chance at recognition.

St. Vincent

Release Date: October 24th, 2014

Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts

The Scoop: The major motion picture debut from writer/director Theodore Melfi, St. Vincent, has become a dark horse comedy-centered contender in this year's awards season discussion. After the divorce of his parents, Oliver and his mother (Melissa McCarthy) move in next door to a miserable old curmudgeon named Vincent (Bill Murray). Desperate for money, Vincent agrees to help the struggling single mother by watching Oliver after school every day for a nominal fee. She agrees and the grumpy old war veteran forms an unlikely bond with the young boy. I'd expect plenty of laughs from St. Vincent, but if the dramatics can resonate with moviegoers, the possibilities could be endless. 

Potential Nominations: Bill Murray (Best Actor) is still waiting on his first Oscar win and maybe this is the role to finally get him there.

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


  1. based on this and other early predictive articles, Birdman seems to be a shoe-in for several noms. Lingering feeling I have is that perfs that deserve recognition (ala 2013 Rush's Daniel Bruhl) will be overlooked in favor of "those purported to be long overdue" or "splashy". I certainly hope that will not be the case and early odds suggest Kill The Messenger is facing an uphill battle (much like my Spurs do every year). Should it earn a Best Adapted Screenplay nom, Gary Webb will be most pleased.

  2. I completely agree with your remarks and thought Daniel Bruhl was inexplicably overlooked in the Supporting Actor race, but I'm willing to reserve judgment until I get a chance to see Birdman.