Upcoming Films Act as Precursor to Oscar Award Race

Photo Courtesy of Eva Rinaldi, Flickr Creative Commons

Summer is long over and awards season is almost upon us. In these next few months a handful of big name studios will release some of the best films of the year, starting in October and stretching all through December. Most have already been screened at the Toronto or Venice International Film Festivals and early reviews have given some insight as to how they’ll end up being. Spoiler alert: they’re really good.

October starts off with a bang as David Fincher’s highly anticipated adaptation of “Gone Girl” hits theaters the third. This is certain to pick up both critical acclaim and big numbers at the box office. Early reviews are strong with Oscar buzz for Fincher as best director and acting nominations for Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Two weeks later, two other best picture contenders launch: David Ayer’s World War II story “Fury,” starring Brad Pitt, and the lesser known comedy “Birdman” starring Michael Keaton. Both show a lot of promise in several categories, and “Birdman” received almost unanimous praise from Toronto and Venice (“Fury” did not attend). Finally, Oct. 31 launches the critically acclaimed thriller “Nightcrawler” starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

November also has no shortage of contenders. Starting on the 7th, Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi flick “Interstellar” releases in 3D and IMAX, as well as the Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything.” Though the film is only offering limited releases, “Theory” has been generating a lot of talk for Eddie Redmayne in a transformative, heartbreaking performance.

On the 14th, the film that will be on everyone’s mind will be director Bennett Miller’s disturbing true story “Foxcatcher.” This film probably has the most speculation in terms of acting nominations as the three leads, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and especially Steve Carell, offer their most powerful and unprecedented performances. The rumor mill is also swirling talk of nominations for best picture and director.

Finally on the 21st, the second World War II drama of the season, “The Imitation Game,” makes its way into theaters. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the story of Alan Turing, the mathematician famous for breaking the Nazis’ code. Critics are calling it the best performance of Cumberbatch’s career and a best actor nomination is almost guaranteed.

Finally, December seems to be the most prominent month, as all the remaining films have to release before the 31st to be eligible for nomination. On Dec. 5 we have the inspirational biopic “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon. The next week, back to back heavy hitters are released in the forms of Ridley Scott’s biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s detective drama “Inherent Vice.” Neither has premiered yet, but both are generating a lot of hype.

Christmas Day releases four separate contenders. Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” the Martin Luther King Jr. biodrama “Selma,” Tim Burton’s latest creation “Big Eyes” and Angelina Jolie’s World War II biopic “Unbroken.” Speculation is high for “Unbroken” as it’s far and away the most “Oscar bait” movie of the year. Finally on Dec. 31, the historical drama “A Most Violent Year” gets in just in time. The film stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain and chronicles one of the most brutal years in New York City history.

The great thing about the race this year is no one movie is a lock for any category. Speculation is through the roof but a lot can change between now and the Oscars. One thing’s for sure, there’s definitely a lot of great reasons to get to the movies this fall.