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Oscar Watching: GRAVITY Takes Off

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity kicked off the Venice Film Festival earlier today. By all accounts, it’s a great film that looks like one to beat at the Oscars, particularly for Cuarón in the director race, Sandra Bullock in the best actress race, and DP Emmanuel Lubezki in the cinematography category. Stephen FrearsPhilomena could also make waves at the fest; other Venice players like Jonathan BanksUnder the Skin and Peter Landesman’s Parkland might surprise us.

The Telluride Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow, just announced its lineup, which includes Cannes players like J.C. Chandor’s All is Lost, the Coen BrothersInside Llewyn Davis, and Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, as well as John Curran’s Tracks, Ralph FiennesThe Invisible Woman, and Jason Reitman’s Labor Day.

Meanwhile, it comes as no surprise that Lee Daniels’ The Butler topped the box office for a second consecutive week – especially considering the weak new offerings like Twilight hopeful The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and the horror flick You’re Next. Of course, that gives Lee Daniels‘ film yet another boost as an Oscar hopeful. Maybe Oprah Winfrey will get that supporting actress Oscar after all.

Also, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine made the weekend top 10 thanks to a nationwide expansion. Despite the differing tones of the films, could Allen have another hit like Midnight in Paris on his hands?

Check out this week’s predictions below, and feel free to chime in with a comment.

Best Picture

Yep, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is in it for the long haul, and Gravity definitely gets a boost thanks to the Venice raves. Besides that, not much has changed. The Book Thief moves up a few spots thanks to increased visibility over the last week.

1. The Railway Man (Jonathan Teplitzky)

2. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

3. American Hustle (David O. Russell)

4. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)

5. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

6. August: Osage County (John Wells)

7. Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)

8. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Lee Daniels)

9. The Monuments Men (George Clooney)

10. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
11. The Book Thief (Brian Percival)
12. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)
13. The Fifth Estate (Bill Condon)
14. Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan and Joel Coen)
15. The Counselor (Ridley Scott)
16. Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock)
17. Philomena (Stephen Frears)
18. Devil’s Knot (Atom Egoyan)
19. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée)
20. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
21. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
22. The Past (Asghar Farhadi)
23. Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper)
24. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
25. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller)

Also worth mentioning: Labor Day (Jason Reitman), Rush (Ron Howard), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Justin Chadwick), Tracks (John Curran), Elsa and Fred (Michael Radford), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), All is Lost (J.C. Chandor), The Invisible Woman (Ralph Fiennes), The Conjuring (James Wan), Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh), Ender’s Game (Gavin Hood)

Best Director

Definitely watch out for Cuarón here. Also, it might be time to take  Daniels seriously.

1. Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

2. Jonathan Teplitzky for The Railway Man

3. David O. Russell for American Hustle

4. Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave

5. Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher

6. John Wells for August: Osage County
7. Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station
8. Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips
9. Alexander Payne for Nebraska
10. Lee Daniels for Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Also worth mentioning: George Clooney for The Monuments Men, Brian Percival for The Book Thief, Bill Condon for The Fifth Estate, John Lee Hancock for Saving Mr. Banks, Ben Stiller for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Stephen Frears for Philomena, Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine, Atom Egoyan for Devil’s Knot, Ethan and Joel Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis, Scott Cooper for Out of the Furnace, Ridley Scott for The Counselor, Ron Howard for Rush, Asghar Farhadi for The Past, Jason Reitman for Labor Day, Jean-Marc Vallée for Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress in a Leading Role

The expansion for Blue Jasmine gives Cate Blanchett an upper hand in this race, but how far will that boost go? The buzz right now centers on previous winners and nominees – including Bullock, whose performance in Gravity might help her pull off a Sally Field. But can Blue is the Warmest Color lead Adèle Exarchopoulos get a best actress nomination despite the stigma against films with an NC-17 rating? Maybe Elizabeth Olsen can get in for Therese, which was just picked up by Roadside Attractions.

1. Amy Adams for American Hustle

2. Sandra Bullock for Gravity

3. Mia Wasikowska for Tracks

4. Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

5. Julia Roberts for August: Osage County

6. Judi Dench for Philomena
7. Bérénice Bejo for The Past
8. Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks
9. Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Belle
10. Elizabeth Olsen for Therese

Also worth mentioning: Adèle Exarchopoulos for Blue is the Warmest Color, Brie Larson for Short Term 12, Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant, Sophie Nélisse for The Book Thief, Felicity Jones for The Invisible Woman, Kate Winslet for Labor Day, Nicole Kidman for Grace of Monaco, Naomi Watts for Diana, Zoë Saldana for Nina, Jennifer Lawrence for Serena, Shirley MacLaine for Elsa and Fred, Keira Knightley for Can a Song Save Your Life?, Hailee Steinfeld for Romeo and Juliet, Julie Delpy for Before Midnight, Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Steve Carell will get a lead campaign for Foxcatcher. The performance supposedly straddles the line between leading and supporting, so this move implies that there’s a lot of confidence in the performance. Also, Bruce Dern will campaign for a lead actor nod for Nebraska. Sentiment can probably get him in, but can he win? Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey maintains runner-up status as the trailer for Dallas Buyers Club highlights his physical transformation and against-type performance. Forest Whitaker moves into the top 10 – even though I see only Oprah getting a nomination.

1. Steve Carell for Foxcatcher

2. Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

3. Bruce Dern for Nebraska

4. Colin Firth for The Railway Man

5. Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave

6. Robert Redford for All is Lost
7. Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips
8. Michael B. Jordan for Fruitvale Station
9. Forest Whitaker for Lee Daniels’ The Butler
10. Idris Elba for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Also worth mentioning: Benedict Cumberbatch for The Fifth Estate, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Christian Bale for American Hustle, Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis, George Clooney for The Monuments Men, Michael Fassbender for The Counselor, Joaquin Phoenix for Her, Christian Bale for Out of the Furnace, Josh Brolin for Labor Day, Ralph Fiennes for The Invisible Woman, Ben Stiller for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Casey Affleck for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Christopher Plummer for Elsa and Fred, André Benjamin for All Is By My Side, Jesse Eisenberg for The Double

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

I still see Cameron Diaz walking away with the Oscar, but she’s got a fierce competitor in Oprah. The aforementioned Allen often does wonders for his supporting actresses. Am I underestimating Sally Hawkins?

1. Cameron Diaz for The Counselor

2. Oprah Winfrey for Lee Daniels’ The Butler

3. Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

4. Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale Station

5. Nicole Kidman for The Railway Man

6. Margo Martindale for August: Osage County
7. Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine
8. Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
9. June Squibb for Nebraska
10. Naomie Harris for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Also worth mentioning: Amy Adams for Her, Penélope Cruz for The Counselor, Viola Davis for Prisoners, Catherine Keener for Captain Phillips, Julianne Nicholson for August: Osage County, Juliette Lewis for August: Osage County, Reese Witherspoon for Devil’s Knot, Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle, Kristin Scott Thomas for The Invisible Woman, Zoë Saldana for Out of the Furnace, Shirley MacLaine for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Alfre Woodard for 12 Years a Slave, Cate Blanchett for The Monuments Men, Emily Watson for The Book Thief, Jessica Lange for Therese

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

The supporting races are always a mess early on, but the men are really tricky to predict this time around. I’m sticking with Mark Ruffalo right now, but expect the upcoming film festivals to shake up this race.

1. Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

2. Stellan Skarsgård for The Railway Man

3. Benedict Cumberbatch for August: Osage County

4. John Goodman for Inside Llewyn Davis

5. Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave

6. Jeremy Renner for American Hustle
7. Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
8. Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks
9. Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street
10. Hiroyuki Sanada for The Railway Man

Also worth mentioning: David Oyelowo for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher, Daniel Brühl for Rush, Sam Shepard for August: Osage County, Chris Cooper for August: Osage County, Matthew McConaughey for The Wolf of Wall Street, Ewan McGregor for August: Osage County, Benedict Cumberbatch for 12 Years a Slave, Brad Pitt for 12 Years a Slave, Javier Bardem for The Counselor, Geoffrey Rush for The Book Thief, Woody Harrelson for Out of the Furnace, Jeremy Irvine for The Railway Man, Colin Firth for Devil’s Knot

Best Original Screenplay

Gravity arguably leads this race right now, so nothing’s really changed. Meanwhile, each of the weekend’s new releases failed to pull in $10 million, but Edgar Wright’s new comedy, The World’s End, performed well enough to be a decent hit. Critics embraced the film, so could we have a sleeper contender for original screenplay?

1. Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón for Gravity

2. David O. Russell and Eric Singer for American Hustle

3. Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station

4. Cormac McCarthy for The Counselor

5. Ethan and Joel Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis

6. Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine
7. Asghar Farhadi for The Past
8. Peter Morgan for Rush
9. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith for Saving Mr. Banks
10. Bob Nelson for Nebraska

Also worth mentioning: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack for Dallas Buyers Club, Scott Cooper and Brad Inglesby for Out of the Furnace, J.C. Chandor for All is Lost, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright for The World’s End, Carey W. Hayes for The Conjuring, Jeff Nichols for Mud, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for The Way, Way Back, David Lowery for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha, Aaron Guzikowski for Prisoners, James Gray and Richard Menello for The Immigrant, Scott Z. Burns for Side Effects, Derek Cianfrance, Bob Coccio, and Darius Marder for The Place Beyond the Pines, Arash Amel for Grace of Monaco, Sofia Coppola for The Bling Ring

Best Adapted Screenplay

Danny Strong rose up the list for his Lee Daniels’ The Butler script, but will there be enough respect from the writers for this to happen?

1. Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson for The Railway Man

2. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman for Foxcatcher

3. John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave

4. Tracy Letts for August: Osage County

5. Michael Petroni for The Book Thief

6. Danny Strong for Lee Daniels’ The Butler
7. George Clooney and Grant Heslov for The Monuments Men
8. Billy Ray for Captain Phillips
9. Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson for Devil’s Knot
10. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater for Before Midnight
Also worth mentioning: Josh Singer for The Fifth Estate, Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena, William Nicholson for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Steve Conrad for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Jason Reitman for Labor Day, Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street, Abi Morgan for The Invisible Woman, Christopher Kyle for Serena, Andrew Bovell for A Most Wanted Man, Luc Besson and Michael Caleo for The Family, Jullian Fellowes for Romeo and Juliet, Joss Whedon for Much Ado About Nothing, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for The Spectacular Now, Anna Pavignano and Michael Radford for Elsa and Fred, Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Dan Scanlon for Monsters University

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The Author

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.