Oscar: The 9 films that could win “Best Picture”

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Oscar: The 9 films that could win “Best Picture”

This list won’t just be the top 9 films on the Best Picture prediction page. It also won’t be the 9 I think will make it with nominations (though very possible). Many other films not on the list could be nominated, but won’t compete for the win, the same way “The Blind Side” or “District 9” didn’t compete in 2010 and how “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” didn’t compete in 2011.

At this point in the race we have seen all but four of the major contenders. We, as a film-going audience, haven’t seen them, but critics have, and we have been given a general consensus on the film.

So here are the top 9, possible Oscar Winners. I can guarantee one of these nine films will be our Oscar Best Picture winner.

9. The Monuments Men

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 It’s kind of insane how far George Clooney’s “The  Monuments Men” has dropped with Oscar prognosticators and on our list as well. All because of a statement from Warner Brothers saying it wouldn’t be pushed for awards and a hackneyed trailer. It gives off more of a blockbuster vibe than an Oscar film vibe. Still, it has a prime release date on Christmas Day and the Academy loves Clooney and a film about art preservation should sit well with them too.

“The Monuments Men” could get critically mixed reviews and still land a nomination. It’s hard to tell if Warner Brothers will actually push it or not despite their statement. It is a very crowded race and it is very possible them film won’t land a nomination at all. The film remains unseen, and possibly unfinished. The box office should be high, so it is very possible if this film is a critical hit that it can win the best picture oscar even with a lack of for-your-consideration-promotion.

8. Fruitvale Station

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You can never count out a Weinstein-distributed film. This time last year not many people were seriously considering 2012’s Sundance Winner “Beasts of the Southern Wild” to land well with Oscars, let alone land a Best Director nomination. If “Beasts” had Weinstein behind it, it probably could’ve competed for the win.

The problem is The Weinstein Company has a lot of contenders this year. It’s hard to figure out which film Harvey will focus his sights on. “August” has weak early reviews, same as “Mandela.” “Philomena” could land, but seems to be lacking in much-needed buzz. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” may be too weak critically. Basically, “Fruitvale Station” could be The Weinstein Company’s best reviewed film of the year, and with proper support could go beyond a nomination and compete for the win. It could also be too small, and have come out too early to even register a nomination.

7. Saving Mr. Banks

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Many films on this list are just here because they haven’t been seen yet and have the potential to be major contenders. Disney’s major competitor this year is “Saving Mr. Banks.” John Lee Hancock isn’t exactly a name you’d associate with Oscars, despite his odd success with “The Blind Side,” and the film could be too sugar-coated to really register with critics.

I’ve heard nothing but positive words about the screenplay, and from early test screenings I’ve heard good stuff about Colin Farrell and how the story takes a poignant turn into Travers’ past coping with an alcoholic father. So it may not be that sugar-coated at all. It’s also a film about filmmaking, which should interest many of the potential Oscar voters in the actors’ branch.  It’ll take strong critical success and a strong box-office for Disney to push this on voters, but with those things it could compete for the win.

6. Her

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Spike Jonze’s “Her” has a premise that is just so intriguing. It has the opportunity to be timely and deliver a message about the advancement of technology. It could also bring-up the unasked question about what is love? and can people fall in love with artificial intelligence?

Warner Brothers said “The Monuments Men” might not compete for Oscars. But they deliberately moved this film’s release date to December so that it could compete for Oscars. The film will show at the NYFF soon, and I’ll update this portion of the post accordingly. If we get a strong critical reaction, voters could get passed the unconventional weirdness of Spike Jonze and give it the percentage of #1 votes it needs.

5. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

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Despite some lukewarm reviews, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” could be a major Oscar contender. It deliver some high box-office numbers in a crowded summer, and of course it has the support of The Weinstein Company. It may not be the critical success that “Fruitvale Station” is, but it has grown in popularity with audiences.

Also with Oprah Winfrey being the front-runner currently in the Supporting Actress category, TWC can easily deliver her a win there. So with a lock already on one of the major categories, I wouldn’t be surprised if Weinstein tried to push this film all the way. The only thing really holding it back are those lukewarm reviews, but remember “Crash” and “Forrest Gump” had similar reviews.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

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After back-and-forth reports about the possibility of a 2014 delay, “The Wolf of Wall Street” has fallen hard on some prognosticator’s lists. Reports say the original rough cut was too long and that Scorsese may not be able to make the November deadline. But recent developments are leaning more toward the possibility of this not being delayed, just possibly coming out in december.

If it does come out this year, it is Scorsese, and it seems like it’s going to be big. It has been called a passion project by Scorsese and DiCaprio. The trailer makes it seem wild, and almost comical, but that could be a style that could deliver Scorsese the gold. It is likely this film will make money and if it’s good enough (I mean it is Scorsese) it will easily compete for the gold.

3. American Hustle

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There have been scattered reports of multiple test screenings for this film. We have heard little to nothing from them. Anything that has been learned is pretty irrelevant too. So we’ll go ahead and just keep saying that no one has seen this film yet. David O. Russell isn’t exactly the name that comes to mind when you think of fantastic filmmakers. But he is currently looking toward his third Director nomination in 5 years.

“The Fighter” and “Silver Linings Playbook” were both pretty good films. They weren’t anything classic, but it’s easy to see that O. Russell has found his style, and his methods are doing him well. He has been chasing gold for some time now and this film sounds big enough and intriguing enough to take him there. With a great cast and great subject matter, I can see this film easily being a critical success, but how much of a success? It’ll very likely be nominated (unless it is horrendous for some reason), and may as well compete for O. Russell’s Oscar win that he’s been battling hard to get.

2. 12 Years a Slave

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“12 Years a Slave” is the front-runner for a lot of prognosticators. It has received very, very high critical praise, it has a prime release date, and may have the star power to deliver a strong box-office. Originally, before all the festival appearances, we had heard that the film may be too dark for the academy. In hindsight we weren’t considering some past-winners like “Schindler’s List” which this film has been compared too multiple times.

Is “12 Years a Slave” as good as everyone is saying? Could it be time that America faces its historically dark demons by voting for this film for the win? It is supposed to be really good, we are just kind of waiting for a box-office idea. Fox Searchlight would be smart to ride this film all the way too gold.

1. Gravity

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When you are out at the movies this week, buying tickets for “Gravity,” you may be buckling up for the best film of 2013. The film has high critical praise, and is off to a good start with a strong box-office. Just about everyone is seeing this film, it is huge! Originally it was called the effect-driven Oscar film of the season, but it is much more than “Avatar” or “Life of Pi” was especially with critics.

If “Gravity” can maintain this momentum, it’ll win the Oscar. It is already guaranteed to sweep most of the technical Oscars. It came out just late enough to contend, and it is already guaranteed the Oscar nomination.

So there it is…

You may have noticed a few key films aren’t here.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” – I doubt it will be big enough to contend, the critical praise should be enough to land a nomination, but with a crowded field it is unlikely any of the actors will make it in and CBS Films doesn’t have a strong history with Oscars, even if the Coen Brothers do.

“Captain Phillips” – Even with high critical praise it still comes off more as a crowd-pleaser. Tom Hanks is great, but he may get more noticed for his performance as Walt Disney. The film could easily land a nomination, but Columbia will probably have an easier aim for gold with “American Hustle”

“Nebraska” – Getting pretty high marks from critics may not be enough. If “The Wolf of Wall Street” falls out it’ll have a better chance with Paramount’s promotion, but it’s probably too small, and will likely not receive the box-office it deserves.

“Rush” – Falling down on our charts due to the lack of box-office. “Rush” is fantastic, but it may not be fantastic enough to crack this field, even for a nomination. It is Universal’s main contender, and they had a strong push for “Les Miserables” last year despite reviews, but “Les Mis” still had the box-office to it’s name.

“Dallas Buyers Club” – While most critics have fallen for this film, some have really not. And it pretty much a universal agreement that McConaughey and Leto are perfect and their performances should give the film a strong box-office. In the end I can’t see the film having the critical support it needs to win.

“Blue Jasmine” – Woody Allen’s film has received great reviews, but came out too early. A strong case can be made for Blanchett’s performance, but there is no way this film can win with such a lack of momentum.

“August: Osage County” – It is still possible, but the film isn’t doing that good critically. It is  a Weinstein film, but even with massive promotion the film needs to be loved or liked beyond the performances. I can see this film getting in, but not winning. Harvey could make it happen, but he’d be more smart to focus on supporting “The Butler” and “Fruitvale” at this point.

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About Matthew Durham

Passionate about Film, TV and Video Games. BS in Film. Post-Production Editor for The Golf Channel and Writer for TheMedia10.com

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